Bunhill: Hopping mad

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OH DEAR, oh dear, oh dear. Sir Philip Beck, the chairman of Mowlem, the construction casualty that owns the City Airport, is hopping mad. Bunhill has not always seen eye to eye with Beck, but on this occasion he is right.

A recent copy of InterCity, the magazine for British Rail's first-class InterCity 'customers', as the organisation likes to call its passengers nowadays, had a long piece about trains versus planes written by Dr Philip Beresford, a sometime spotter.

The piece was published with a graphic supplied by Beresford showing the comparative times of trains and planes. All went well and the magazine was published. But then the trouble began.

The Times spotted the piece and decided to use the story in its travel news section last Thursday. It published the graphic Beresford had produced - or rather it didn't. The one he had produced had been strangely doctored - unbeknownst to him.

Whereas the original graphic stated that it took two hours, 15 minutes to travel from City Airport to Brussels, the one that appeared said it took three hours, 30 minutes.

Much was the same for the time quoted from City Airport to Paris.

Beck didn't see the piece until it appeared in the Times, and he was furious (remember that Mowlem is trying to sell the airport). The Times was furious, and so was Beresford.

So what happened? Well the copy and graphic were sent to Redwood Publishing, the InterCity contract publisher. They sent it to British Rail, which sent it to European Passenger Services (it is responsible for the bit of the Channel tunnel that runs underneath the sea), and they changed it.

A London City spokesman wails: 'They have admitted changing the times, they have admitted that their changes were wrong, and they promised to come back to me two days ago with an explanation. I am still waiting.'

So am I. Bunhill spent most of Friday afternoon telephoning European Passenger Services, but the line was constantly engaged.