Bunhill: Branson in for a bumpy bus ride

RICHARD BRANSON often boasts of how he started his business from a telephone box at the age of 16. So when he met 17-year-old Liverpool entrepreneur Andrew Cawley, he must have thought he had found a protege.

Branson promised to back the youngster's attempts to restart his bus company, after what Cawley claims were aggressive tactics from a rival operator aimed at putting him out of business. Branson, however, may have cause to regret his generosity. Last week, one of Cawley's competitors issued a writ for libel over his allegations.

The rumpus started earlier this year, when Cawley set up Rest and Ride to operate an early morning service taking workers to industrial estates and a late-night shuttle taking clubbers home after nights out on the tiles.

Dubbed 'the bus boy' by the local press, Cawley alleges his fledgling business failed to take off after aggro tactics from a competitor. In Coach and Bus Week, the trade magazine, Cawley alleged all kinds of strong-arm tactics were employed to force him to suspend his service after only a matter of weeks.

Branson might blame Anne Diamond for his entanglement in Liverpool's bus wars. He met the 17-year-old on BBC's Good Morning - with Anne and Nick. The programme makers paired Branson, himself a victim of a 'dirty tricks' campaign by British Airways, with Cawley and after hearing Cawley's tale, Anne Diamond put the airline tycoon on the spot by asking what he could do for the lad. Branson boldly undertook to give the young busman the financial support necessary to start again.

He later told the Liverpool Echo: 'I look at Andrew and see myself. I started in business at 16 with the same hopes as this lad . . . Whatever it costs to get the company up and running, I will provide. I hope Andrew's rivals think again now they know Virgin is going into business with him.'

This promise was confirmed by Virgin early last week. It said: 'We will also give him legal help to maintain his position in the market.'

It appears, however, that Branson's support does not extend to financing Cawley's defence against the libel action. When Cawley contacted Virgin, he was told that Branson would not be supporting a defence against the writ.

To complicate matters further, the competitor is claiming damages from Cawley's parents as responsible guardians. Cawley's father is himslf a bus driver in Liverpool.

Mrs Cawley said: 'Our solicitors are not prepared to take the case on, because it is going to be very costly and they would want a substantial advance payment. We haven't got the money. It's so upsetting.'

AN AMUSING story about Rudolph Agnew, the new chairman at oil group Lasmo, comes my way. Not so long ago, he is said to have emerged from a London restaurant with Enterprise Oil chairman Graham Hearne, intending to repair to Pratts, the Piccadilly gentleman's club, for further discussions. Greeted by driving rain the pair made a mad dash for the nearest taxi. The silver- haired and by this time drenched and bedraggled Agnew thrust his head through the taxi's open window and shouted simply: 'Pratts'. The cabbie, clearly a graduate in the art of the sharp riposte, replied: 'I can see that. Now where do you want to go?'

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried