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Business News

Business Diary: Statisticians in the firing line

They are a sensitive bunch down at the Office for National Statistics so being targeted by protesters yesterday will have come as a bit of a shock.

That is what happened, though: anti arms trade campaigners are furious that the ONS has awarded a contract to help with the 2011 census to an IT specialist that is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the gigantic American defence company. So yesterday the Count Me Out campaign turned up at the London office of the ONS to make a fuss.

Welcome back Lord Young

The Jewish Business Awards 2011 yesterday was the first public speaking engagement for Lord Young of Graffham since he had to step down as the Government's Enterprise Tsar last year for saying that people whinging about the austerity cuts "had never had it so good". He's still not inclined to pull any punches, it seems. "I have realised today, in one short lunchtime, exactly where this country has gone wrong over the last 20 years," he told the gathering. "We have turned good polytechnics into 5th grade universities upon which we turn out thousands and thousands of young people with worthless degrees who come straight on the job market."

RBS is still bottom of the class

Another blow for Royal Bank of Scotland, desperately trying to claw its way back from the collapse that saw it bailed out during the financial crisis. You might think it would be pleased to be in Fortune magazine's annual report on the world's most admired companies. But sadly it only merits inclusion in the rankings of 16 "megabanks". And where does RBS come on that ranking? 16th, that's where.

Our bricks, you're not playing

Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer, has learned a thing or two about business strategy in recent years, agreeing tie-ups with Harry Potter and Star Wars that have seen its once-moribund profits soar. Still, its approach to public relations remains a little, how shall we put it, child-like. It published its annual results on Thursday but refused to discuss them with the British press because it had agreed, celebrity-style, to talk exclusively to one newspaper. It barely featured them.