The City Diary: Who's really pulling the strings?

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The Independent Online

My old friend Ed Balls has accused Mervyn King, the Bank of England governor, of being "drawn into the political arena" over the Government's deficit-reduction strategy.

But might it be the other way around? Leaked US embassy cables showed that, before the general election, King criticised the future PM and Chancellor for their lack of experience and tendency to think about issues only in terms of their electoral impact. This has fuelled claims that King was central in persuading the coalition to back a far more dramatic deficit-reduction programme. Some City wags even ask when the Bank of England might grant the Treasury its independence.

Here's to the happy couple

Congratulations to Amanda Staveley, the Dubai-based financier, who is to marry the Iranian-born Mehrdad Ghodoussi. A central figure in the £7bn re-capitalisation of Barclays by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour and the Qatari royal family, and in the Sheikh's purchase of Manchester City FC, Staveley accepted the proposal from her Chelsea-supporting beau on Valentine's Day. My man in Dubai, who dribbles when describing the size of the rock on the Yorkshire lass's finger, reckons there'll be two ceremonies – British and Persian – and he's checking flights to London in October when I'm told there'll be a bash with close to 1,000 guests.

They've popped his bubbles

Simon Gordon, the proprietor of London's oldest wine bar, Gordon's, has branched out. After a raft of bag thieves hit his joint, the businessman developed a computer system called Facewatch, a glorified version of CCTV that speeds up reporting petty crimes to the police. After trials in other London businesses, Gordon claims his software has improved conviction rates. The project's latest promotional video is fronted by Neil Bennett, a BBC crime correspondent, who received a case of champagne for his services. The booze was delivered to Bennett's house and left on the presenter's doorstep. It got nicked.

What is it about Royalty and gambling?

Ladbrokes took a £60m hit to profits last week because some high-rollers (rumoured to be Asian royalty) have stopped betting. And now I see that Sheikh Abdulrahman Mubasrak Hamad Al Khalifa, a member of the troubled Bahraini royal family, is being pursued by Spreadex for alleged outstanding debts of £270,000. Could the bookies recoup some cash by offering a spread on how long the Bahraini royals stay in power?

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