Ashcroft homes in on Smith Square

City People

JUST AS one senior Tory, Jonathan Aitken, moves out of the highly desirable environs of Smith Square, just round the corner from the Houses of Parliament, another, I gather, is moving in.

Michael Ashcroft (pictured), the billionaire financier, has bought a substantial property in the area and plans to take up residence there shortly. This presumably will go some way towards answering critics of his present tax-exile status. Despite being Treasurer of the Conservative party, and reportedly bankrolling its finances of late, Mr Ashcroft spends most of his time in Florida or Belize and is infrequently seen at Central Office on Smith Square.

Presumably all that will now change, together with his tax status. So where precisely is his new home? We should not, perhaps, disclose the exact address for security reasons, but I can assure readers that Mr Aitken has not sold up yet.

n SIR GEORGE Mathewson (pictured), chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, must have been more than a little alarmed when he turned to the business pages of the International Herald Tribune recently.

There he was, prominently pictured against a cut-out of the homophobic TV evangelist, the Rev Pat Robertson. He was even captioned as "CEO of the embattled bank" and to add insult to injury, Royal Bank's logo was used to anchor the story.

The Tribune was, of course, writing about Bank of Scotland's disastrous relationship with the good Rev, not Royal Bank's. An easy mistake to make, as they say.

n INTERESTING JOB, but not for the fainthearted. The Institute of Food Research is looking for a new director to replace Professor Peter Schroeder, who joined the organisation from Nestle last year. The Institute is one of the UK's key research outfits investigating the safety of GM foods and the job is, according to headhunter Russell Reynolds Associates, "a challenging position".

n THE LABOUR friendly chairman of Granada, Gerry Robinson, was more than a little discomfited yesterday when asked at the group's interim results presentation to comment on the suitability or otherwise of Labour Party financial backer Greg Dyke - at present the head of Pearson TV - as the next director general of the BBC.

"It's an area where I'm not going to be drawn," he said.

Surprisingly, Mr Robinson didn't let the matter rest there. "The whole issue should be who is the right person", something, he noted, recognised by Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the board of governors. "The independence of the BBC is hugely important," Mr Robinson added. "Political pressure from Labour or the Conservatives should not influence it."

The question is: does that amount to an endorsement for Mr Dyke?

n CITY PROPERTY analysts have been experiencing more than the usual amount of musical chairs as changes in the sector fuel a battle for the hottest analysts.

Latest to be poached is the entire property team at Commerzbank - John Atkins, Ray Jones and Carl Gough - who will soon be reappearing at HSBC. The respected trio fill a gaping hole at HSBC created months ago when JP Morgan poached its analysts Andrew Causer and Andrew Penny.

n Spotted in the interminable passport office queue: A Virgin pilot grounded by his inability to renew his passport. A new way for British Airways to win the battle of the skies?

n JON SNOW's recent Channel 4 debate may have found the Iron Lady guilty of betraying the British People, but as she celebrates the 20th anniversary of her arrival in Downing Street Margaret Thatcher (pictured) can take comfort from the fact that she's still tops in the City.

Asked who had the most positive influence on British business this century, a whacking 84 per cent of directors polled included her in their top three, while 47 per cent voted for her as first choice. The economist John Maynard Keynes came second in the personal popularity stakes - beating Richard Branson and John Harvey Jones - with 35 per cent of those voting for him placing him first.

Strangely, perhaps, given the conflict between Keynesian and monetarist economics, more than 80 per cent of those who voted for Keynes also included Thatch in their top three. Maybe it's that inclusive mindset we hear so much about.

n IT SEEMS that supporting the Dome is not something that companies are necessarily keen to brag about. One unlikely benefactor slipped through unnoticed last week when it emerged that the Laing Family Trust - of Laing Construction fame - stepped in at the last minute with a sizeable donation to save the embattled "Faith Zone".

Nonetheless the group, displaying an unusual shyness, was keen to play down its role. Is giving money to the Faith Zone that embarassing?

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam