Column Eight: A calmer side of Sir James

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NOW THAT he has sent British Gas whimpering in the direction of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, Sir James McKinnon of Ofgas is keen to promote the serene side of his nature.

The intransigent Gael has taken on the role of non-executive director of Efamol, the purveyor of aroma therapeutic products that include the calming agent (and aspiring cure-all) Evening Primrose Oil.

Sir James tells us that he may step down once the MMC inquiry has run its course. He still hankers after the business life.

Perhaps a Primrose tanker can be dispatched to Pimlico where Cedric (pronounced Seedrik) Brown, the new Gas chief executive, could soon be in need of some treatment.

IN MARKED contrast to the sorry state of affairs at at UBS Phillips & Drew, Nick Ward, a media analyst at Smith New Court, has proved that the path from the City to literary fulfilment is not necessarily one of acrimony.

While Terry Smith, Phillips & Drew's head of research, is dangling from the rafters by his P45 for his seminal work on creative accounting, Mr Ward is quietly heading off to Channel 4, where he will write scripts. What sort of scripts, he is not saying.

TO BORROW from the late Rene Cutforth, questions have even been asked in the house. Australian Senator Chris Schacht is up in arms over the appointment of British-born Stephen Mulholland as the new chief executive at John Fairfax, the country's troubled news empire.

It is fair to say that Mr Mulholland, who grew up in South Africa, has not been the most popular choice. He is currently chief executive of South Africa's Times Media.

As luck would have it, Fairfax 'journos' are in South Africa covering the Wallabies rugby union tour - an ideal opportuniy for them to explain to Mr Mulholland what they meant by 'an anti-union, right- wing head kicker'.

THE WORD from New York is that Jane Henson, the widow of Muppet creator Jim Henson, was yesterday helping the City's finest with their inquiries following an incident at a toy trade fair last month.

Mrs Henson, who is involved in a copyright dispute with James Brady (a former agent) over rights to two early characters, is alleged to have rearranged Mr Brady's stand and attacked an employee.

Unfortunately for Mrs Henson the alleged incident was captured on film by a photographer.

No statement yet from Manhattan's Midtown North Precinct. Kermit isn't saying anything either.