City & Business: Large mistake at PIA

IT'S been a big week for punishment. Andrew Buxton, chairman of Barclays, received the equivalent of four strokes of the rattan cane from unhappy shareholders at the bank's annual meeting. But greater and more humiliating pain was meted out to Andrew Large, chairman of the Securities and Investments Board, as he squirmed before the Treasury select committee.

The trouble was over Joe Palmer, chairman of the Personal Investment Authority, the personal finance regulator being set up under the auspices of SIB. Mr Palmer, it turns out, had earlier misled the committee during questioning about deficiencies at his former employer Legal & General.

Brian Sedgemore, a Labour member of the committee, berated both the absent Mr Palmer, suggesting he was either stupid or senile, and the very present Mr Large, questioning why he could have appointed such an alleged incompetent in the first place.

All very embarrassing for Mr Palmer, whose position now looks precarious. It's a measure of the desperation of the PIA, which has already been spurned by the Pru and other prospective members and is terrified of any more adverse publicity, that it can still regard Mr Palmer as an asset rather than a liability.