An awarding day sends spin doctors into a whirl; City Diary

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The Independent Online
Hectic scenes yesterday as Sir David Simon, chairman of BP, picked up the prestigious KPMG Businessman of the Year award. At lunch time the press office at accountants KPMG had to pick up an award of their own first - the Public Relations Sword of Excellence, for their leadership programme with rugby hero Will Carling.

The spin doctors then had to charge across London from the Intercontinental Hotel to the Savoy, where industry grandees such as Sir Colin Marshall of British Airways were waiting to present their award to Sir David. Everything went off smoothly, including the after lunch speech by Peter Mandelson, Labour MP for Hartlepool and no mean spin doctor himself.

No doubt Gordon Brown's accusation a fortnight ago that accountants like KPMG were "peddling lies" about Labour's tax plans was long forgotten.

Embattled Ken Clarke stuck up two fingers at the Eurosceptic right wing of the Conservative Party yesterday by recruiting two new special advisers to Treasury ministers - one from the BBC and one from the European Parliament.

It is hard to decide which will cause most frothing at the mouth by the Gorman Tendency. Anthony Teasdale has been appointed as Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and joins from the Conservatives in the European Parliament, where he was Senior Policy Adviser and previously Head of their London Office.

Paul Gardner has been appointed as Special Adviser to the Rt Hon William Waldegrave, MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Gardner joins from the BBC's On the Record programme. Good luck chaps - you'll need it.

ITV were leaving nothing to chance last night with their live interview of OJ Simpson. All the questions put by Granada TV's Richard and Judy were prepared by an unimpeachable outside expert - Gary Solis, legal affairs adviser with ITV's arch rivals Sky News. They'll have Rupert Murdoch reading News at Ten next.

An extremely tanned and relaxed-looking Sir Rocco Forte was seen lunching at the Savoy Grill yesterday, one of London's most important sites for power lunching. One wag was heard to comment that the Savoy must be one of the few hotels in London not wholly owned by Grenada, Sir Rocco's nemesis. Whatever, the Forte scion looked to be happy to be relieved of the burden of such a big business...

There was wry laughter from workers in London's Canary Wharf yesterday, the Independent amongst them, when the four organisations chosen to tender for the franchise to the Docklands Light Railway were announced.

The DLR, Canary Wharf's main link with central London, has become a byword for delays. At the moment it receives revenues of pounds 9m a year against pounds 23m costs. One of the potential franchisers is Docklands Area Rapid Transit, a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and VIA GTI. If they can make the DLR truly "rapid" they will have performed a miracle.

Forget Sid, the most enthusiastic private shareholder in the world must surely be Nicolae, his Romanian counterpart. Over 95 per cent of the adult population have opted to invest directly in companies via Romania's Mass Privatisation Programme. All citizens over 18 were given coupons to invest, and could opt for five-year investment funds or direct investment. The subscription period has just closed and the figures for investing in one firm have exceeded all expectations. Nicolae will trade his shares on a Nasdaq-style system. I hope he knows that shares can go down as well as up.