Sir Patrick, who finds time to run BAT Industries as well as heading the inquiry into police responsibilities and rewards, wants to inject more of a business culture into the police, starting with performance-related pay.
To rapturous applause, Sergeant Alan Eastwood, the federation's chairman, accused Sir Patrick of making a 'monumental blunder'. But the sight of so many rozzers all seeking to preserve the status quo only raised the suspicion that perhaps Sir Patrick's ideas weren't so potty after all.
Sgt Eastwood might have been wiser to pop round to Hambros, the merchant bank in the shadow of the Tower of London, and offer them the pounds 250,000 for a glimpse of the Sheehy dossier. Four years ago, Hambros advised Sir James Goldsmith and his chums on their pounds 13.5bn hostile bid for BAT. The bid failed, but I would guess Hambros has a file on Sir Patrick - and every management mistake he ever made - as fat as a telephone directory.
You may recall how Sir James accused the BAT management of 'not having the foggiest idea of what to do' and of pursuing ill-conceived diversification. Even BAT's tobacco record was poor compared with rivals such as Philip Morris.
Since then, BAT's record continues to be patchy, including a probable pounds 500m loss on mortgage indemnity insurance. Sir Patrick, who was paid pounds 981,000 last year, is likely to have bad news on cigarette profits this week.
What better way to assess his judgement of how the police should be managed than to scrutinise his own record at managing BAT? However, Westminster Strategy, the federation's political advisers, don't think much of the idea. 'I don't think we would want to attack Sir Patrick personally,' I'm firmly told.
One minor fact about June de Moller, who was promoted this week to be managing director of Carlton Communications (and therefore one of the most powerful people in commercial television), is that she was educated at Roedean.
It seems that the hockey pitches of Roedean and other girls' public schools have done for broadcasting what the playing fields of Eton did for Waterloo. Verity Lambert, who produced Minder and now owns and runs Cinema Verity, maker of the failed BBC soap Eldorado, is another Old Roedeanian. And Liz Forgan, now running BBC Radio after a decade at Channel 4, went to Benenden.
Ann Longley, headmistress of Roedean, where the fees are pounds 11,655 a year, sees de Moller's appointment as affirming the Roedean philosophy of lots of sport and arts to produce self-confidence and all-round skills in the gels.
Then again, maybe the way to the top is via a convent. Rosemary Thorne, finance director of Sainsbury's, who notched up 20 O-levels at St Ursula's in Bristol, tells me: 'They indoctrinate you to work very hard.' And there was no emphasis on sport. Yve Newbold, the company secretary of Hanson, is another convent girl (the Blessed Sacrament, Brighton).
A cosmopolitan education at the Lycee Francais in Kensington didn't hurt Gail Rebuck, the boss of Random House. Kathleen O'Donovan, BTR's finance chief, went to a grammar in Portsmouth.
Anita Roddick swears by the Maude Allen Secondary Modern, since swallowed up by Littlehampton Community School. 'A joyous passage in my life,' enthuses the energetic Body Shop founder. 'It was like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie . . .'
AS hundreds of Italy's businessmen head towards jail, those on the outside are determined to project a cleaner image to the rest of the world.
Confindustria, Italy's answer to the CBI, has invited senior British industrial editors to meet some of Italy's top businessmen, like Giorgio Garuzzo of Fiat and Carlo de Benedetti of Olivetti. The aim is to show that the sordid era of palm-greasing, corruption and favour-buying is over.
To prove it, the journalists are being offered the chance to see for themselves. That, naturally, means an expenses- paid week in Italy complete with a weekend jolly on Lake Como for them and their partners.
'It would be easy for the distant observer's view of Italy to have blurred during this perplexing time,' burbles Roger Payne, the PR man organising the trip.
Brace yourselves for a deluge of articles on Italian industry in late September.
Pandora Maxwell's response to the six sober-suited men who rang the doorbell of her Chelsea home early one morning last summer has passed into legend.
'Piss off or I'll call the police,' she yelled from an upstairs window, supposing them to be journalists come to pester her husband Kevin. 'Madam, we are the police,' came the reply.
The solicitors McKenna & Co have now published guidance to help clients surprised by a dawn raid. No fewer than six organisations - from the Serious Fraud Office to the European Commission - can swoop on your home. But which have the right to use force, or seize documents, or prevent you phoning a lawyer? McKenna's newsletter contains a cut-out-and-keep table, ideal for sticking up on the fridge door for emergencies.
Meanwhile, business is booming for Peters & Peters, a rival firm, which advertised last week in the sits vac columns for a solicitor and a para-legal assistant. Both, it stressed, must have experience of business crime. P&P is representing young Kevin in his forthcoming trial. Previous clients include the stockbroker Tony 'The Animal' Parnes.
There's been a bit of a hiccup in sales of Nicholas Coleridge's book on newspaper tycoons, Paper Tigers. The publisher Heinemann had to withdraw the book from shops temporarily.
The trouble came in the chapter on Tony O'Reilly, the former British Lion, current Heinz chief and Irish Independent owner. Mr O'Reilly conceded that he once encouraged the retirement of a journalist whom he accused of being an IRA sympathiser.
The journalist said he could be identified and that the story was false and dangerous to his health. He is suing for libel in the Dublin courts. The page with the offending passage has been replaced and the book is back on sale.
My appeal to help poor Ken Clarke find new things to tax has not fallen on deaf ears. EG Whybrew, of London SE11, suggests how the Chancellor could extract money from newspapers without being accused of taxing knowledge - 'a tax on nipples'. EGW proposes 1/2 p per nipple per copy of paper, magazine or book. At two nipples per issue, 3.5 million copies per day, six days a week, the Sun would contribute pounds 10.7m a year.
However, I rule out Nipple Tax on the grounds it would ruin David Sullivan.
No, this week's winner of a bottle of bubbly is Tony Pratt, of London SW14, the first of two readers to pick out joggers as a neglected source of revenue. Joggers constitute a threat to public safety as they hurtle past. They are a drain on the overburdened NHS, which has to treat their muscle strains. Their marathons bring cities to a standstill.
Mr Pratt argues for a pounds 100 licence, worn on the wrist and policed by traffic wardens with the power to levy on-the-spot fines. Sounds a bit high, but needs must when the budget deficit is heading for pounds 50bn. Jogger Tax on Britain's 2.5 million pavement pounders would raise a handy pounds 250m.
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