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Business News

Credit crisis diary: Plenty of fun in the High Court

The atmosphere at the Northern Rock judicial review hearing got just too hot yesterday. The judge called a short recess so that a window could be opened in court after Lord Grabiner, representing the Government, complained that he was too warm. To laughter, he added: "I'm not blaming Mr [Michael] Beloff," the QC who had just finished a lengthy argument on behalf of RAB Capital. Mr Beloff rather needlessly told the judge he assumed that Lord Grabiner was implying he was full of hot air (we got the joke the first time, thanks) and gave his opponent a wink. Those comical barristers, eh?

Picking themselves up and starting over

It may only be a few days since Clifford Chance announced job losses and a cash call on its equity partners, but the world's largest law firm isn't wallowing in self-pity – the search for new business goes on. Indeed, the Chance's New York office is currently attempting to persuade the IT company Satyam – them of the dodgy accounts – that it would benefit from CC's expertise.

Don't pick on the small guy

Did Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, deliberately introduce Mervyn Davies as his new Trade minister while standing on a raised podium yesterday? The effect was that Lord Mandelson towered above the departing chairman of Standard Chartered, who is, shall we say, on the vertically challenged side. Maybe the Prince of Darkness is losing his presentational touch. Or maybe not: perhaps the idea was to make it very clear who'll be in charge.

BP hit by some thieves with ambition

Those rascals who drive off from petrol stations without paying for their fuel need to raise their game. BP, the British oil giant, reckons that it has had more than $1m worth of diesel pinched from one of its distribution centres in Seattle, Washington state, over the past nine months. Detectives in the city are investigating who managed to install a fake flow meter at the centre.

The insurance that will keep you shopping

Good news for people worried about losing their jobs and not being able to pay the bills: the insurance broker SafetyFirst is marketing a new type of cover called Groceries Protection. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and (for a handsome premium, of course) pays your shopping bills if you cannot afford to because you have lost income owing to ill-health or unemployment. And people say the insurance industry is opportunistic.