City Diary

GORDON BROWN, the Chancellor, must have wished he was back at the Labour Party Conference in Blighty instead of the IMF meeting in Washington yesterday.

Mr Brown was staying with most of the IMF delegates in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where in the daytime the bedrooms were turned into temporary offices by the itinerant bankers and officials.

Come yesterday, Mr Brown wanted to hold one of his briefings to broadcast his views on the world economy. But finding a bedroom to do it in proved trickier than anticipated.

The Chancellor and his entourage were turfed out of the first bedroom he tried by the Mexican delegation. Moving to another, they were again ejected by the governor of the Bank of Spain. Finally Mr Brown found a safe haven - courtesy of Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England. Which begs the question - if they're now sharing bedrooms, just how independent is the Bank?

I WAS sad to hear of the death last week of the man who had arguably the greatest influence on the development of utility regulation in this country, Professor Michael Beesley.

From being chief economist at the Department of Transport in the 1960s, Professor Beesley went on in the 1980s and 1990s to "write the book" on the regulation of the privatised utilities, including telecoms, transport, water and electricity.

"He was the granddaddy of it all," said his former colleague at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), general director John Blundell.

Professor Beesley, born 3 July 1924, was also a founding Professor of Economics at the London Business School (LBS) in the 1960s. For the past eight years he has put together a series of lectures on privatised utilities regulation at the Royal Society of Arts, on behalf of the LBS and the IEA. These are the last word on the subject, according to Mr Blundell. This year's lectures start next week.

JOHN MURRAY, a former down-table sub-editor in this very organ's business section, is leaving his post as editor and managing director of the Daily Express in Scotland to join Flextech, the cable and satellite television programme producer, as head of corporate affairs.

The dapper Irishman will be trousering pounds 150,000 a year plus share options.

Mr Murray tells me he has ambitions in general management. He admits, however, that he will be on a "steep learning curve" for some time.

Mr Murray will replace Nicola Howson, who is leaving Flextech to join ITV as public relations adviser to its chairman, Richard Eyre.

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