Pembroke: Friends of the Earth calls banking summit

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The Independent Online
Those careless clearing banks have lost another customer. Friends of the Earth is closing its accounts with the Big Four until the banks pledge large-scale cancellation of Third World debts. The ultra-green charity says debt is an important factor in tropical rain-forest destruction.

The chairmen of Barclays, National Westminster, Midland and Lloyds have been asked to turn up at 11am today outside Lloyds' Covent Garden branch and pledge to cancel at least 75 per cent of their Third World debts.

Just in case they do not play ball, Friends of the Earth is laying on some street theatre, rich in symbolism. Expect Grim Reapers and corpses - not of bank chairmen but of trees.

And after exploitative banks, who do we love to hate? Yes, those commission-hungry insurance salesmen who keep selling people products they don't need.

John Peniston, director of Abbey Lane Associates in Sheffield, has had enough. He puts in a plea for all those hard-working, decent, honest insurance advisers trying to do a good job.

His letter to Money Marketing this week argues that only the jealousy and greed of people in high places are forcing salesmen to disclose their hard-won commissions. Even the saintly Marks and Spencer attracts his wrath.

However, threats that he may fight back by hanging knickers and vests in his office window are not to be taken seriously. Nor indeed is his letter. 'It was meant light-heartedly,' he assures me. 'I'm not a militant.'

Rugby fans should know that both tomorrow's internationals are going to be cliffhangers.

IG Index, the company that made its name through accepting bets on stock indices and commodities, is quoting the home sides as slight favourites. In the language of spread betting, France is 3 to 6 and Ireland 4 to 7.

That means punters can bet that France will beat England by fewer than 3 points or more than 6 and Ireland will beat Scotland by fewer than 4 or more than 7. The money is being put on the fewer-than options.

IG raised its sports betting profile this week by putting its prices on Carlton and Sky teletexts.

Stuart Wheeler, managing director, explains that the more right you are the more you win and the more wrong you are the more you lose. Another great advantage of spread betting is that the punter can back someone to do badly. Just as well, given the state of English cricket.

And on that theme, Newell and Sorrell, a firm of graphic designers, has organised a Question Time entitled 'So What's Wrong with Football?' Gary Mabbutt, Spurs and England star, will be one of the panellists discussing whether the national game is in terminal decline. Invitations are in the shape of tickets to a football match at Utopia Stadium, kick-off is at 7pm on March 17 and dress is strictly team colours.

They must have known we were coming. Corney & Barrow, purveyor of fine wines in the City for more than 200 years, opens at Canary Wharf in June. Just in time for the anticipated arrival of thirsty hacks from the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

Sir Peter Levene, chairman of Canary Wharf, said Corney and Barrow would bring 'a distinctive, top-quality brand to the area'. Hear, hear. Time to lay in the vintage champagne.

(Photograph omitted)

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