Clinton's former spokesman to give his spin on the election

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The Independent Online
President Clinton's former chief spokesman, George Stephanopoulos, is coming over in May to present the "Sword of Excellence" to the winner of the UK's Institute of Public Relations' annual awards.

Simon Lewis, president of the IPR and spin doctor-in-chief at Centrica, says it is the first time Mr Stephanopoulos has visited Blighty since his stint as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford.

Mr Stephanopoulos was the close confidant of the President during his first election campaign and only left the White House staff following the start of Clinton's second term.

During the first election campaign he was one of the key figures who coached the future President using the slogan: "It's the economy, stupid."

He is much admired by several of my female colleagues ("What a hunk" being one of the more printable comments). He was at one time suspected of having written Primary Colours, the anonymous book which lifted the lid on the Presidency. In fact it was somebody else, and Mr Stephanopoulos is now writing a book of his own.

He also lectures at Columbia University in New York and speaks on a Sunday morning programme for ABC News. Mr Lewis enthuses: "It's quite a coup for the IPR."

Over 200 spin doctors will attend the black-tie dinner in London on Monday 12 May, just 11 days after the British general election.

Mr Stephanopoulos will give his views on electioneering and then present the winner of the pr of the year with the ceremonial sword, originally donated by the first sponsors of the event, Wilkinson Sword. Whether the winner is allowed to use the sword in anger at work remains unclear.

Nicholson Graham & Jones has always claimed that as a firm of City solicitors it attracts star performers. Now this claim has become literally true.

Step forward Elaine Hanks, secretary in NGJ's Banking Department, who is shortly to appear on ITV's Stars In Their Eyes! as the singer Peggy Lee.

The game show, hosted by Matthew Kelly, was recorded last November and will be shown on Saturday 5 April. "I've been sworn to secrecy about who won," says Mrs Hanks.

"My boss Paul Salsbury (banking partner) has been telling all his clients about it, so I think he's pleased. Every time I get in the lift people ask me about it."

Mrs Hanks has been a legal secretary for 25 years, and with NGJ for around a year. She's always liked singing but only started taking it seriously last year, when she started "gigging" with Reg, a keyboard player and friend of her husband Gary's, who both work in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

"I've appeared twice at the British Legion. I chose Peggy Lee because I look like her and a lot of people say I sound like her. She was a showstopper. I sing Fever in the show."

She says appearing on the show was "mind blowing", not least because she was on last and had to walk through a cloud of dry ice. "As I walked through it, the clapping from the audience was overwhelming."

So does working at NGJ appear a trifle dull in comparison, now she has tasted fame? "Oh no - I haven't changed my image at all."

Roger Smith, 58, director on the convertibles desk at BZW, retired yesterday after 43 years with BZW. Mr Smith is so highly regarded and popular that he was cheered off BZW's dealing floor as he left for the last time.

Mr Smith joined what was de Zoete Gorton in October 1954, just before his 16th birthday. He also had an interview at Jeyes Fluid prior to joining, but opted for the City rather than cleaning liquids. A lucky escape.

Mr Smith's service at BZW has only been broken once when he did his National Service in Jamaica in the 1950s. He spent most of his years on the loan and preference market, and the last 10 years on convertibles. He also recently celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary.

Mr Smith has another claim to fame. His son Mark, now in his mid- 20s, competed in the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada, representing England in the 100m and 400m relays.

On Wednesday night Mr Smith's leaving party packed out the City of London Club near the Mansion House. The uproarious shindig was hosted by Simon de Zoete, chairman of equities at BZW.

Mr Smith can anticipate a quieter life - he plans to "go fishing".