His polo has sparked a turf war and the horse has bolted at his investment trust
When he isn't terrorising boardrooms, South African activist investor Brian Myerson likes to indulge his passion for polo. But The Diary has learnt that his sporting activities have generated almost as much heat as his business ones. Back home in Plettenberg Bay, the 'Financial Mail' criticised Mr Myerson and other developers for trying to turn the area into a "Costa del Sol". Over here, a deal to sponsor Henry Brett, left, one of Britain's best polo players, ended in court action. And his polo field, plans for stabling at Shawford Park in Hampshire and helicopter flying have created a rumpus among locals. They'll be glad, then, that he'll need to concentrate on turning around the Principle Capital Investment Trust, which saw a 26.3 per cent fall last year compared to a rise across the market of 2 per cent.
The taxman's got great intelligence, but did it probe the informer?
Officials at HM revenue & customs will be popping champagne corks after purchasing bank details of 100 wealthy Britons who salted cash away in the scandal-racked tax haven of Liechtenstein. They reckon they will net £100m from the information for a payment of a reported £100,000 to "Heinrich Kieber", the source who came courtesy of Germany's intelligence service, the BND. At this point it's worth remembering it was the BND that handed intelligence to the CIA suggesting Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction – intelligence that came from an Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball". He was unmasked as a fantasist and conman who was seeking asylum in Germany. As for the so-called Herr Kieber, he had already been implicated in a Spanish property fraud, and he had stolen the information passed to HMRC from Liechtenstein's LGT bank, where he worked digitalising the bank's paper records. Bit of a rogue, then. All a cagey HMRC would say last week was: "We can confirm that a payment has been made but we are not confirming how much and who to." Cheers, chaps.
Not 'Today', thank you
'Times' columnist Andrew Billen clearly has a soft spot for Justin Webb, the BBC's man in Washington. "Not since Charles Wheeler [pictured] has the BBC had as fine an American correspondent," he gushes. But Billen's claim that Webb is to join the 'Today' programme is wide of the mark. "I can tell you hand on heart that I read this – sent to me by my mother in law – with amazement," Webb tells me. "I am down to stay in the US till 2010 and am negotiating to stay longer ... I suppose it is true that if a big job were offered, I'd probably come back."
Bonjour tristesse: what goes round comes roundBeing sacked from 'The Daily Telegraph' after 29 years' service was a low point for Colin Randall, the paper's Paris correspondent. "[It] came as something of a bombshell," he said. So it must have been comforting for him to read in Thursday's 'Telegraph' about a British girl in Paris who became a successful writer after being sacked by an accountancy firm. Even more so as the article boasts how the story of Catherine Sanderson's sacking, for indiscretions on a blog, was revealed in "an exclusive article" in the 'Telegraph' by, er, "then-Paris correspondent Colin Randall".
Vanity Fair opens floodgates for Hitchens hate mail
'Vanity fair' has come up with a novel way of handling complaints about firebrand columnist Christopher Hitchens. "To accommodate the overflow of outraged letters and emails sent to the magazine, VF Daily introduces a new feature: Hitch Bitch," it says, inviting readers to write in, and "VF Daily will post a selection of the sharpest, snappiest, and/or most elegantly reasoned letters .... " A top idea, and one 'The Mail on Sunday' could adopt; it has its own motor-mouthed mailbag magnet in the shape of Peter Hitchens. You know, Christopher's brother.
You might have thought MTV presenter and former model Emma Griffiths would be a natural at interviewing members of the fashion world. But an embarrassing moment arose at last week's film premiere of '27 Dresses'. Having button-holed top shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Griffiths gaily asked: "Have any of the 27 dresses in the film been designed by you?" "Er, unfortunately not," answered a puzzled Choo.
Top brass in Close call
Interesting that top brass at Close Brothers filled their boots with company stock last week. Days after management revealed it had failed to sell the firm – rebuffing a £10.25p-a-share offer from Cenkos's Andy Stewart – chairman Rod Kent and Stephen Hodges, MD, bought 75,000 shares at £6.35 a pop. Insiders tell us this didn't go down well in-house. Still, the shares fell to £5.91p on Friday, a paper loss of £33,000.
He left the BBC but the BBC won't leave him alone
It may be four years since Andrew Gilligan left the BBC, but relations are still sour. Gilligan, who is shortlisted for reporter of the year in the British Press Awards, believes a former BBC colleague has been going into his Wikipedia entry and leaving unflattering comments. Quel horreur! As the 'IoS' has previously revealed, altering Wikipedia is a favourite pastime among BBC employees – an investigation of anonymous edits on the site last year revealed more than 7,000 changes by BBC workers. And Gilligan, speaking at the London College of Communication, also let slip that he believes Ken Livingstone will win London's mayoral election in May. "I think he's still the favourite, to be honest," he said – even though Gilligan's impressive campaign against Ken has won him the nomination for next month's awards.Reuse content