CITY DIARY

With secret corporate donations to political parties becoming increasingly unfashionable, it seems that a campaign for political reform has been driven to approach the City directly for funds. The Voting Reform Group yesterday launched a £400,000 bond, which yields 7 per cent until its redemption date in 1997, to raise money for its forthcoming campaign to force a referendum on Britain's voting system. The cause is supported by Christopher Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, who learnt the value of proportional representation as child in Ireland. Investors should be reassured by the confident assertions of Graham Pooley, secretary of Reform plc, that the money will be paid back by funds raised through raffles, fetes and sherry evenings in the future.

The forthcoming arrival of John Holmes, the colourful former Laing's salesman, at SG. Warburg's UK equity desk reminds me of an intriguing incident in 1987 centred on one of thecountry's rare successful prosecutions for insider trading. Geoffrey Collier, the former joint securities chief at Morgan Grenfell, was convicted of insider dealing involving shares of Cadbury Schweppes while his company was helping to build up a stake for General Cinema.

The fateful telephone call that led to Collier's conviction took place on 6 November at the Wimbledon address of a colleague, a certain John Holmes, then managing director of Morgan Grenfell Securities, who was never in any way implicated in the scandal. Collier and John Holmes were close colleagues. The former was known to his friends as "Bull"; Mr Holmes' equally affectionate epithet can be left to the imagination.

I hear that Jeff Randall, 40, is reconsidering his position as City editor of the Sunday Times. No decision has been made yet but Mr Randall, a lover of horse-racing and golf, has often said he would quit his post as he left his thirties. It is said he hopes to continue as columnist in the business section and as a director of the Sunday Times' holding company while passing on the week-by-week editorial responsibility for the section.

Roger Lawson, president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, says he is worried that unqualified accountants, who spent their youth partying rather than swotting for exams, will undermine the good name of the profession. "Anyone in the country can call themselves an accountant but they may not have the same integrity and ethical standards," he complains.

To forestall growing accusations of spiviness, the institute is spending £230,000 on a 350-site, nation-wide poster campaign, the first of its kind for the accountants.

BusinessAge magazine is publishing a sequel to the "40 under 40" series run by the defunct Business magazine. It seeks to identify high-flyers among the ranks of the nation's young entrepreneurs. Let's hope the list is more prescient than previous attempts which included banana-skin businesspeople such as Sophie Mirman of Sock Shop, Gerald Ratner of Ratners, John Ashcroft of Coloroll, Philip Green of Amber Day and Oliver Roux of Guinness.

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