CITY DIARY

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Much has been made of Douglas Hurd's recruitment by NatWest Group to be deputy chairman of its investment banking division, NatWest Markets. The former foreign secretary will join a long line of Conservatives to work for the bank, including Robin Leigh-Pemberton, who preceeded Lord Alexander as chairman, and Lord Boardman, a former minister in Edward Heath's cabinet, who preceded him. Rest assured, the bank insists Mr Hurd's is not a political appointment. In fact it is scrupulously even- handed in its political links. Derek Wanless, chief executive, has been helping the Labour Party, on an informal basis, to draw up plans should it get into office. Recently one City figure witnessed NatWest's cultivation of Labour first-hand, when former Labour City spokeswoman Mo Mowlam was taken by the bank to see Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall. "She was very impressive," said the pinstriped chap. "But she chain-smoked all the way through - right under a `no smoking' sign."

The jury in the marathon Maxwell trial (see previous page) had an interesting lesson yesterday on why the rich get richer so quickly.

Shown investment schedules, the jurors asked what the figure 1 meant against entries of pounds 20m and pounds 8,767. "That means pounds 8,767 interest was earned in one day on the pounds 20m," an accountant witness informed them. He said that in fact the money was only deposited overnight. The trial, which is estimated to cost taxpayers about pounds 25m, is expected to end in November.

Bagels from Stansted. No, not the name of an aspiring art school rock band, but what this office received when London's Stansted Airport decided to publicise its new links with El Al, Israel's national airline. Henceforth, El Al will be operating three times a week to and from New York's Newark airport. BAA publicised this by sending hungry hacks bags of "New York bagels - the taste of America". The verdict? "They tend to stick to the top of the mouth," said one industrial correspondent.

India's first Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet was shut down by local authorities yesterday - only to reopen six hours later. The row is over alleged levels of monosodium glutamate, a taste enhancer, in Colonel Sanders' morsels. The Karnataka state high court blocked the local authorities' order on an appeal by KFC, which argued that it uses the same formula in India as it does in 77 other countries. KFC's outlet in Bangalore has been targeted by campaigners trying to protect Indian culture from Western encroachment.

What has become of all the statues of East European communist leaders since the fall of the Berlin Wall? Some can be found at Calliley Castle, near Alnwick in Northumberland. Dr Anthony Henfrey, an international entrepreneur and co-founder of the Selsdon Group think-tank, has been buying up statues of ex-dictators to line an avenue at his castle. Henfrey is now a company doctor with the Postern Group. He has bought a wing in the medieval castle, and his favourite statues are of former East German leader Erich Honecker and Albania's unlamented Enver Hoxha. Dr Henfry now plans to sell replicas through garden centres. Watch this space.

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