Bunhill: Garnetts shine in limelight

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The Independent Online
LIKE it or not, I suspect we're all going to hear a lot more of Christopher Garnett, the commercial director of Eurotunnel. It was Garnett - rather than his volcanic boss Sir Alastair Morton - who fronted the great unveiling of fares for Le Shuttle last week.

It was a crowded, shambolic presentation - more Black Hole of Calcutta than press conference. And the slides were in the wrong order. All very embarrassing for the eager and earnest Garnett, but perhaps not surprising - his sister is none other than Virginia Bottomley, the accident-prone Health Secretary.

However, neither sibling had half such a high profile last week as their brother William Garnett. William, a blameless and normally anonymous solicitor with Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, is representing the EastEnders star Gillian Taylforth in her High Court libel action against the Sun.

Against the combined forces of the fierce tabloid and George Carman, its fiercer QC, William Garnett and his team have been trying to rebuff the allegation that Miss Taylforth had oral sex with her fiance in their Range Rover on a sliproad of the A1.

Westminster-educated Christopher, who worked with arch-rival Sealink before joining Eurotunnel, tells me: 'We have a family bet about which one of us will appear the most on TV this week. I've no idea who's winning.'

The Garnetts are something of an institution. Theirs, you may recall, is the extended family that celebrates summer holidays at the family retreat on the Isle of Wight by inviting film crews along to record their wholesome paddling expeditions. Film crews, desperate for anything purporting to be news in August, are only too happy to oblige.

Among the cousins in this absurdly over-achieving family is Peter Jay, the former ambassador in Washington and chief of staff to Robert Maxwell. Rupert Pennant-Rea, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, is also related by marriage.

(Photographs omitted)

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