A lot of shouting but not much sense

City & Business

I wonder what Keith Percy, the former chief executive of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management, makes of the antics of Nicola Horlick - once of the same parish. Mr Percy recruited Mrs Horlick to MGAM and the two have much in common. Both are well-respected and extremely able fund managers. Both have left senior positions at MGAM in difficult circumstances. There the similarities end. While Mr Percy departed silently and without complaint, Mrs Horlick has gone in a blaze of publicity - a willing participant in a tawdry media circus.

I am not sure what Mrs Horlick is seeking to achieve. Her suspension related to allegations that she had breached her contract. That is a matter that will be decided by the lawyers, not the spin doctors. She clearly feels aggrieved, but her case is made no stronger by sharing her feelings so publicly at this point.

Neither is her case made any stronger by her arguments that MGAM has mishandled the events that followed the discovery of alleged deception by Peter Young, the fallen star fund manager. Mrs Horlick's view is not shared by either her colleagues or MGAM's clients. The flood of defections that had been anticipated in the wake of the Young affair has not materialised. The letters signed by MGAM's 30 senior UK fund managers on Friday, reassuring clients of their commitment to them and the firm, do not suggest there is revolution in the air. MGAM's record, which for 1996 again points to upper-quartile performance, leaves it as one of the best-performing funds in the City.

It would surely have been better if Mrs Horlick had taken a leaf out of Keith Percy's book and maintained a dignified silence. Had she done so, re-instatement would have been difficult but not impossible. Her silence would also have been a louder testimony to the loyalty she professes for her staff and her clients.

Greater discretion would have stopped Mrs Horlick from storming the offices of Robert Smith, MGAM's chief executive, with the media in tow. It would also have dictated that her trip to Frankfurt on Friday to confront Deutsche Bank, MGAM's parent, should be left to another time.

Mrs Horlick may have won the hearts of the media but she will not have won the minds of the City - which takes an altogether more restrained view of how to conduct yourself in the Square Mile.

By choosing to fight her battle so publicly, there is a grave danger that she will fail to meet her chosen objectives, whatever they may be. Re-instatement is now out of the question. Compensation is a matter for the lawyers, but MGAM is in no mood to pay up. Former clients and staff will see no benefit from the instability and uncertainty that Mrs Horlick has created. If the aim was to challenge City management style then she has failed miserably since she has reinforced the image of the City as a breeding ground for highly paid stars. Perhaps most depressingly she has done nothing to further the cause of women in the City. The headline "Mother of five takes on German banking giant" makes a rattling good read but will set back significantly the rightful ability of women to have a successful career in the City and raise a family.

In the final analysis, Mrs Horlick is just a person who started the week with a job and ended it without one. It happens. It happens all the time and it is very upsetting when it does. Sometimes it is unjust and it is always unfair. But when it does happen most people just grit their teeth. They do not hire expensive lawyers and highly paid public relations consultants.

Just as Mrs Horlick was jetting to Frankfurt to lay siege to Deutsche Bank, around 1,200 workers in Norweb's electrical retail chain, bought last year by Kingfisher, were being told they were losing their jobs. They were devastated, just as Mrs Horlick had been. Some cried, just as Mrs Horlick had done. Some were angry, just as Mrs Horlick still is. That is what life is like in the real world. Perhaps Mrs Horlick should reflect on this.

Murky skies

JUST when the proposed British Airways alliance with American Airlines looked as if it was getting closer to reality, it has been hit by the prospect of falling foul of politics. This vexed issue is not uppermost in the minds of the electorate at the moment, but there are elements of the deal that could make it politically expedient to refer the alliance to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

There are two main political threats confronting the Government. One comes from Brussels, the other from the combined popular appeal of those enterprising aviators Richard Branson and Sir Freddie Laker.

The Brussels bombshell, dropped last week by Karel Van Miert, the EU's competition commissioner, would in different circumstances have been brushed aside. However, his threat to take Britain to the European Court of Justice unless the undertakings given by BA in lieu of a reference to the MMC are tightened, and his opposition to the airlines realising cash from the disposal of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, have raised the spectre of classic Euro-bickering. Mr Van Miert's intervention was seized on by Euro-sceptics as yet another attempt by Brussels to meddle in British affairs. It is not, but the easy way to remove Europe from the BA debate and avoid an embarrassing row during an election campaign is to refer the deal to the MMC.

More intriguing is the potential threat posed by the enterprising aviators. This week Sir Freddie Laker launches an advertising campaign against the BA/American alliance. He has written to the Prime Minister urging a reference to the MMC, as has Richard Branson. If Mr Branson chose to join Sir Freddie in a high- profile public attack on the Government, it could have political repercussions. A referral would neutralise that threat and keep the US carriers quiet until after the election

A politically rather than commercially inspired reference has little appeal. But with the stakes so high it cannot be ruled out.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Flat out: Michael Flatley will return to the stage in his show Lord Of The Dance
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Business Analyst

£250 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst, Bristol, Banking, Business Obje...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape