Old Lady reclaims one of her own as deputy: Gail Counsell reviews the exemplary career and colourful character of Rupert Pennant-Rea, back from journalism to take the Number 2 slot at his old employer in Threadneedle Street

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The Independent Online
FOR THE splendidly named Rupert Lascelles Pennant-Rea, the job of deputy governor of the Bank of England renews an acquaintance with the Old lady.

Editor of the Economist since 1986, he was an economist at the Bank from 1973 to 1977. He graduated to journalism when he was asked to write an article for the magazine. So impressive was the end result that he was offered a job on the spot.

Born in 1948, Mr Pennant-Rea, like his more famous brother-in-law Peter Jay, the former ambassador to Washington and currently the BBC's economics editor, has a solid academic background.

Educated at Peterhouse, Zimbabwe, and Trinity College Dublin, he also took an MA at Manchester University. From there he worked as an economist for the Confederation of Irish Industry and the General & Municipal Workers Union before getting his first job at the Bank and then switching to journalism.

Thrice married, most recently in 1986 to Helen Jay, Mr Jay's sister, he has five children, including two step-children. He lists his hobbies as 'tennis, music, fishing and family', but is also clubby - he belongs to the liberal Reform Club and the MCC.

A past winner of the prestigious Wincott financial journalist award, he is described as 'very clever' and a 'man of integrity and imagination' by his colleagues. But his current political and economic leanings are unclear.

A member of the SDP until he became editor of the Economist, he felt the editor should be politically neutral and stopped subscribing to the party on his appointment. Although a committed pro-European, he subsequently displayed Thatcherite tendencies, at least in his economic views. Of late, however, he has shown signs of a renewed commitment to the concept of growth through capital projects. He has also been known to demonstrate a sensitivity to youth culture. Last year he lent his name to an advertisment placed in the Times calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis. But underneath a rather raffish 1970s exterior - curling sideburns and sleeveless pullovers are a trademark - lurks a highly traditional sense of duty.

Rushing back to the office despite a family crisis to cover the then Sir Geoffrey Howe's unexpected resignation, he reportedly observed: 'My daughter's budgie had just died. I had to tell her that Howe was more important.'

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