Bunhill: Gloomy days in the life of Brian

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The Independent Online
IF, as expected, British Airways and Virgin settle their differences in court on 11 January, attention will focus on the role of Brian Basham, public relations adviser to BA.

Mr Basham, who orchestrated a few of the so-called 'dirty tricks' that so upset Richard Branson, the Virgin chief, says he did nothing more than run an aggressive press campaign. But Virgin's first move was to demand his head as part of the price for any settlement.

Mr Basham's Christmas card to me contains an unseasonal drawing of a man awaiting hanging. The chair on which he stands is held by a figure wearing a crown, presumably Lord King, the BA boss. When I call Mr Basham, he explains that so far, the chair is still steady and King is keeping it that way. The PR man has asked the judge to ensure he is not defamed by any apology and has also asked permission for his own counsel to make a statement on his behalf if necessary. 'I hope it won't come to that but I feel I need to be prepared,' he says. He may also sue This Week, the TV programme that first highlighted the 'dirty tricks' allegations.