The City Diary

Cameron's a full house and Browne's a busted flush in Sky's Top Trumps
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Much hilarity at the Labour party conference in Bournemouth thanks to those clever people at Sky. The broadcaster created a set of "politico" Top Trumps cards that gave marks for charisma and looks, among other things, to our MPs.

Every politician and researcher was desperate to get hold of the card game for the teeniest clues of who might be in favour with Sky and its chairman Rupert Murdoch. Bizarrely to some, David Cameron scored very high marks for looks while Defence Secretary Des Browne came bottom for charisma.

While we know the identity of the bright spark at Sky who came up with the Top Trumps idea, it would be very mean to disclose her identity to any MPs who felt they got unduly low "trump" scores.

Magpie's unusual plumage

Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, the white elephant of the high street, has been ruffling feathers in Premier League directors' boxes across the country by turning up to watch his Newcastle United team wearing a replica shirt and jeans, rather than suit and tie.

But other corporate fans of the Magpies are annoyed that there appears to be one rule for Ashley and another for them. A letter to well-heeled corporate guests reminds them that there is a strict dress code for the posh seats. A spokeswoman for the club admits: "We appreciate that our new owner has taken to wearing the NUFC shirt at home and away games but, save for that one exception, we would like to keep our dress code in place."

Freud star out-psyches colleagues

Freud communications, the public relations agency for New Labour and a host of corporate blue chips, has held its own bout of electioneering. The battle has raged to select a Freudian of the Year. Visitors to the trendy London HQ have been puzzled by a spattering of posters in the foyer extolling the virtues of candidates in a variety of ever-so-clever ways. Candidate advertising even encroached into near-by sandwich bars as last week's election day loomed. We can exclusively reveal that Elaine Westbrook, who has been with Freud for 25 years, seized the award as well as a day's shopping with Trinny and Susannah, the TV fashion pests.

Proof that 'charitable banker' is not an oxymoron

To prove that investment bankers do have a heart, we bring news of Aidan Clegg, managing director of Lehman Brothers in London, who has just scaled the Matterhorn to raise cash for Hand in Hand International, a charity which helps women in India to become entrepreneurs. Clegg was apparently roped into the scheme after a long dinner with a Nordic client and managed to raise more than £17,500 – a sum that will support a whole village. We are not sure what Lehman's combined bonuses were last year, but nevertheless, hats off to you, sir.

A great place to work?

An email arrives from a disgruntled soon-to-be redundant ITV News employee: "In the week that I was effectively told that my job will no longer exist, I received two emails. The first asked me to fill in a staff survey with questions like, 'Would you say this is a great place to work?' The second told me that after 25 years of service I'll be having my first career development review. I think the expression is 'You couldn't make it up!' "

Lording it in jeans

Every day is dress-down day for Huntsworth supremo Lord Chadlington, who is spending more time in the US. "The travelling's exhausting, especially now there are these ludicrous security requirements," he growls. So now he is more sartorially relaxed than our American cousins: "I refuse to take a suitcase and wait hours in airports. If that means board meetings in jeans and jumper, well that's the way it has to be," he says.

Email reveals the hard work behind those bonuses

A helpful email is circulating through investment banks in the City giving tips on how to look busy during the current period of market turmoil. Traders are far too fearful to actually do any work so have to resort to devious tactics to persuade their bosses not to fire them when the inevitable round of redundancies appears over the horizon. Tips include leaving a sandwich with one bite taken out of it on the desk before departing for a long liquid lunch, printing out and reading long personal emails (documents always look more important on paper), and staying at the desk long into the evening even when there is nothing to do. Bankers at ABN Amro have no reason to resort to such schoolboy tactics, however, as they have had their bonuses guaranteed for this year as part of the RBS takeover deal.

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