Business Diary: Parker sticks to early nights

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Whitbread, the owner of the budget Premier Inn hotels, is well known for pulling in the stag-do and hen-party traffic at weekends. But it seems Alan Parker, the outgoing chiefexecutive of Whitbread, ishappier reading about the sales figures than witnessing the experience first hand. "Newcastle is quite a good place I am told for a stag weekend," he says. "Of course, I am normally in bed with a hot water bottle by that time."

NatEx's divine intervention

It was not a visit that was entirely free of controversy, but at least one Britishbusiness was delighted to welcome the Pope to this country. National Express put on about 1,000 buses and coaches to ferry Catholics to and from Cofton Park in Birmingham, where the Pope celebrated Mass. The event was a nice little earner for the company, one reason why its results were strong yesterday.

How to silence your critics

Whatever your politics, let's give the Chancellor of the Exchequer some credit fortactical nous: by appointing Robert Chote, formerlydirector of the Institute forFiscal Studies, to the top job at the Office for Budget Responsibility (where he has replaced Sir Alan Budd), George Osborne has ensured that the most credible critic of government economic pronouncements has been taken out of the game. Mr Chote's successor at the IFS has yet to be appointed, so it will be fascinating to see whether the think tank's analysis of the CST today is up to its usual standard.

An expensive night out

Proof, as if it were needed, that some litigants have absolutely no shame when it comes to their day in court. An American businessman has just won a $650,000compensation payout after suffering damage to his eye socket during a visit to alap-dancing club. The damage was caused by a dancer's stiletto, and the poor chap now suffers from permanent double vision – not something to be welcomed even in a strip club.