Lord Moyne spills the beans on Distillers saga

City Diary
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The Independent Online
Lord Moyne, better known as Jonathan Guinness, scion of the brewing dynasty, is about to publish his long-awaited history of the Distillers' scandal, Requiem for a Family Business.

The peer's account of the 1980s saga threatens to re-ignite a whole series of rows. He is far more favourable to disgraced former Guinness boss Ernest Saunders than one might have expected:

"The atmosphere has totally changed since the time of his (Mr Saunders') conviction. When he had his appeal turned down it was respectfully reported in the press, but when he was convicted everyone said he was a deep-down villain."

Indeed, Lord Moyne, a former director of Guinness, admits that his present feelings toward Mr Saunders are "complicated".

"As a person, I think in many ways he has been hard done by, but I don't go along with the whole of his case by any means.

"I'm on quite friendly terms with him."

The thrust of his book, he adds, will be that the DTI inspectors' report has been made a nonsense of by the various acquittals in the case, and loads of taxpayers' money has been wasted. "The whole investigation was a mess. I don't think people thought straight."

And the root cause of the scandal? "The City got too lax. Distillers thought we were still gentlemen. Unfortunately, they had another think coming."

The pharmaceuticals team at NatWest Markets has issued a research note claiming that one of its analysts, Kevin Scotcher, is "overweight".

The note, Obesity: Fat is a Pharmacist Issue, concerns revolutionary drugs that fight obesity. The stakes are high. One in three Americans is seriously overweight, double the figure a decade ago, and NWM reckon the world market for flab-fighting drugs could be $9bn in ten years.

The note, however, caused "an uproar on the dealing floor" when it was released last Friday, according to our svelte informant. The drugs team used a definition of obesity called the body mass index, which compares your weight to your height.

As an example, the three women on the drugs team all mysteriously had body mass indices of 14.5, from a "NWM estimate" that they were all 7 stone and 5'10". Mike Ward, of the team, had an index of 24, considered "normal", while Kevin Scotcher scored 28, defined as "overweight".

The circular added that Kevin's score "denotes heavy build rather than any association with the subject of this note".

Know what you mean, Kev. I'm big-boned, myself.

One poor analyst fell off the scale, which only runs up to 21 stone. He stormed off to MacDonalds in a huff.

Brian Quinn, who recently retired as executive director for supervision and surveillance at the Bank of England, has been snapped up by Nomura Bank International.

Mr Quinn, who during 20 years in Threadneedle Street has weathered the storms of the Johnson Matthey rescue and the collapse of BCCI and Barings, is heading for calmer waters.

He starts as non-executive chairman alongside Andreas Prindl, who has been chairman since 1989.

Morris dancing tops the list of interests of Asda's new chief executive, Allan Leighton. The bearded Mr Leighton now admits: "I regret putting that on the list. And no, I don't have any photos of me doing it. I used to do a lot when I was at school. Now I just guest for different groups. I play a lot of sports and it's just another way of keeping fit."

Quite so. Mr Leighton also plays football in the Asda five-a-side team with Archie Norman, and supports Leeds United. He is known as a fierce tackling defender in the Norman Hunter "Bites yer Legs" mode. Subordinates beware.