Comment: Melmoth the Warrior has excelled himself

With Andrew Regan and his team in full flight and the Co-op promising to pursue them to their graves, the time has perhaps come to ask how the young financier, backed by all those highly paid City advisers, could so horribly have misjudged this extraordinary smash-and-grab raid.

The first setback came when the plans leaked. Though newspapers and share traders thrive on such things, leaking scarcely ever works to the advantage of the bidder, for it gives the target time to muster its defences and prepare the ground against invaders. In this case the leak was near disastrous. The Regan assault was in effect a consortium bid. Even when things are going to plan, consortium bids are notoriously difficult to keep on the rails. It only requires one of the moving parts to break ranks, or get cold feet, and the whole thing falls apart.

But perhaps the Regan camp's most serious mistake was to underestimate the opposition. Graham Melmoth, chief executive of the CWS, has proved a feisty and highly effective fighter. If Mr Regan believed the CWS was such an enfeebled organisation that it would simply roll over and let its tummy be tickled, he could not have been more wrong. The Co-op has excelled itself with one of the most hard-hitting, irreverent and masterful defence campaigns in years. Using the press and the courts as its main battle weapons, the Co-op has managed to see off the bid before it was ever tabled.

Nor is Mr Melmoth prepared to back off now that he has won and allow the City to sweep the whole thing under the carpet. Virtually every financial regulator in the land from the Inland Revenue's special investigations unit to the DTI, from Imro to the Serious Fraud Office, and from the Securities and Futures Authority to the Stock Exchange, is being prevailed upon to investigate the matter and act. No wonder Nomura got cold feet. It's in enough trouble already back home in Japan without a British financial scandal to cope with as well.

Now that the balloon has gone up, we are being treated to an extraordinary and disreputable display of City advisers running for cover. According to the Co-op, almost no legal undertaking is too great for these people to sign if it means keeping these matters from coming to court. Never darken our doors again? Yes, yes, we'll sign that, no problem.

Mr Melmoth's sense of rage at the disloyalty and thievery of one of his own executives is one thing. But it is nothing against the anger he feels towards the City for its fee-hungry willingness to enter this sordid conspiracy, knowingly making use of stolen CWS material. He is right to push for the strongest possible action and retribution. This has been a shameful episode for the City, matching some of its darkest moments.

One good thing may have come out of it, however. The affair has blown away some dusty old cobwebs within the Co-operative movement, forcing it to re-examine its role and purpose in the modern world. Change is now inevitable. The only question is what shape it will take.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas