Nadir keeps his distance for Polly Peck whodunit

City Diary
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The Independent Online
Asil Nadir, the former Polly Peck boss who jumped bail on theft charges totalling pounds 34m three years ago and flew to northern Cyprus, is back to answer his critics - by phone. To mark the publication of Who Killed Polly Peck; the corporate assassination of Asil Nadir, a tome written by Nadir's business subordinate, Elizabeth Forsyth, he will take part in a telephone press conference on Thursday.

Hacks will be able to quiz him about the book at a press centre in London while he fields the calls in Cyprus. It should be fiery stuff - Mrs Forsyth, a 59-year-old grandmother, was jailed last week for five years after being convicted of handling pounds 400,000 stolen by Nadir. The original publication date of 2 April had to be ditched when Forsyth's trial on charges of money- laundering went against her. She then had to set to work with a ghost writer to write a last chapter.

Yorkshire Water infuriated millions of customers yesterday by imposing a blanket county-wide hosepipe ban - and then rejecting an invitation to sponsor a prayer for rain. A combined West Yorkshire choir at St George's Hall, Bradford, is singing Mendelssohn's oratorio, Elijah, on Saturday, and they approached Yorkshire Water for support.

A spokesman for the choirs said: "The work is basically about heavenly relief from drought and famine and contains the lines, 'The deeps afford no water and the rivers are exhausted'. "We're going to use the occasion to pray for rain and thought it entirely appropriate to ask Yorkshire Water for some sort of support."

A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Water replied: "We will have to rely on our own efforts to beat the drought."

Nice to know that Glaxo Wellcome's assets are protected from the vagaries of the divorce courts. Earlier this year, it emerged that one of the giant drug group's more unusual properties was a share in a home in the exclusive London district of Chelsea belonging to Sean Lance, the group's supremo for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia. The latest accounts reveal Glaxo sank pounds 75,000 in the property, but failed to mention that it related to a flat in Draycott Place, behind Sloane Square, the eponymous haunt of young unmarried ladies seeking an entree into a higher class of drawer.

Clearly if, heaven forbid, Mr Lance was to part company with his wife, Glaxo could be exposed to the risk that the estranged spouse might seek her share of the spoils from this plainly desirable property. But the Independent can now reveal that such eventualities have already been anticipated.

An ante-nuptial contract between one Sean Patrick Lance and his intended, made in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1990 has come to light. Assuming there aren't two Sean Patrick Lances in the world, both hailing from South Africa, it would appear that he keeps the property and Glaxo's asset is safe. Thank goodness for lawyers.

Oh to be a City spin doctor. Shandwick was handling the PR for British Gas at its agm in Birmingham yesterday. After the meeting finished most of the Shandwick personnel hot-footed it back to the railway station. Not so Colin Trusler, chairman of Shandwick UK, and James Poole, a director of Shandwick Consultants, who were whisked back to London in a helicopter - "for a new business meeting", according to the firm.

The liveliest moment of the agm itself came when a Glaswegian shareholder, a Mr Gibson, contrasted the success of BT with the problems of British Gas. Mr Gibson then added it was not up to him to praise an Edinburgh man - BT's chairman Sir Iain Vallance. "You should see them," he said. "They're the most miserable people you ever meet. There's more life in a Glasgow funeral."