Pembroke: Hard cell for Van der Valk. Gerrit?

It is a scene that might have sprung from one of the scripts of Van der Valk, the 1960s television series about a Dutch detective. Gerrit van der Valk (no relation), founder of one of the Netherlands' most successful hotel and restaurant chains, has been arrested on a Caribbean island on charges of tax fraud.

According to a justice ministry official, the 65-year-old hotelier, who is hailed as a model rags-to-riches story in his home country, was taken into custody on Sunday night on the Dutch island of Curacao. Fourteen other staffers, including six other family members, have also been rounded up.

The Van der Valk family have issued a statement proclaiming their innocence and lambasting the authorities. They seem unhappy to say the least that the Big Cheese was taken into custody while swimming in one of his hotel pools with his wife and grandchildren. Cue Barry Foster. Cue credits. Dum dum dum DUM DUM DUM . . .

Sir Michael Perry, chairman of Unilever, the soap suds-to-I can't believe it's not butter conglomerate, is obviously relaxing into his role after two years at the helm. At yesterday's results meeting, he even re-instated the Unilever joke, a regular piece of wit pioneered by his rather more ebullient predecessor, Sir Michael Angus.

Sir Michael (Perry), not exactly industry's answer to Ben Elton, stood up yesterday and likened his task to that of the seventh husband of Elizabeth Taylor in the hotel room on their wedding night. 'I'm thinking: I know why I'm here and what I'm supposed to be doing. The problem is to make it interesting.'

The reaction, I am told, may mean next year's results meetings return to their previous mirthless state.

Londoners visiting Bangkok later this spring may recognise some of the boats chugging up and down the Chao Phraya river. The fleet will include eight of the former Docklands Riverbuses that used to ply the Thames from Chelsea to the Isle of Dogs before the service glug- glugged into receivership last August. The eight jet-propelled catamarans were sold yesterday to the Siam Development and Holding Company of Bangkok for an undisclosed sum.

The boats, with a quick paint job and air conditioning to counter the city's pressure cooker climate, will carry tourists up the Chao Phraya river from Bangkok to the old capital of Ayuthaya. Cynics wonder whether the boats will be able to withstand the shock of carrying more than seven passengers at a time.

Big wheels in the car business finally held their Christmas dinner last night, more than two months after the original bash was cancelled. The December meeting of the All Party Motor Industry Group had to be abandoned after the function fell on the same evening as an important social security vote.

Keynote speaker Mike Goldsmith dazzled the audience with his vision of the car of the future, forseeing a vehicle with special paint that would never get dirty, and the emergence of car brokers who would guide buyers around the mind-boggling choice.

The evening was given an additional frisson by the presence of representatives from both Rover and Honda, its jilted bride. I hear the pair were seated at separate tables.

Birmingham, the city that brought you the Birmingham SuperPrix (it rained like never before) and some of the worst urban architecture in Britain, is running up its promotional flag again.

Never the faintheart, Brum has launched itself (again) as Europe's meeting place.

With a new logo and pounds 1.2m to play with, the city fathers are hoping to capitalise on Birmingham's assets as a centre for conferences and its leisure attractions.

These include, they say, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Cadbury World (a factory tour with a large sweet shop at the end) and the Gas Hall exhibition centre, which, I am told, is a big barn of a building where Brummies used to pay their gas bills.

Suggested Topics
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Execution Trader

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global Rolling Spot FX, Comm...

Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game