Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Pembroke: It never rains but it pours ..

Roger Allard, the former managing director of Owners Abroad, who stood down from the troubled tour operator last Thursday, will today be mourning more than the loss of his job. He will be nursing a severe financial headache.

Mr Allard held 5 million shares in Owners, the largest director's holding. You may remember that in March Owners turned down an offer from rival Airtours of 150p per share, which valued his stake at pounds 7.5m. At close on Friday, after Thursday's profits warning and resignations, the shares had sunk to 721 2 p. Mr Allard's stake had therefore almost halved in value, to pounds 3.6m. 'Oh, je ne regrette rien. . .'

Owners Abroad may be finding it tough selling its package tours. But it does have one loyal supporter. Ross Jobber, the company's broker at Phillips & Drew, left these shores at the weekend.

We learn from the US that Red Adair, the Texan oil well firefighter, no longer has the risky business to himself. According to the latest issue of Forbes magazine, Adair, who used to work out his fees just by thinking of a number, now faces competition from more than a dozen private and government-sponsored blow-out specialists.

The bulk of the young upstarts got going after the Gulf war, when Saddam Hussein's troops retreated leaving 700 oil wells ablaze. Adair, now 78, has even resorted to advertising in trade magazines. Still, the old warhorse seems unimpressed by his rivals. 'They couldn't find their ass with radar,' he spits.

Westminster Communications, City PR adviser to British Rail and Littlewoods Pools, seems intent on building the biggest group of non-executive directors in Britain. It appointed another four last week, bringing the total to 14.

New on board are three parliamentarians, Menzies Campbell (Lib Dem), Baroness Hooper (Con) and Ann Taylor (Lab). Also picked for the team is Bobby Charlton, the former Manchester United footballer, who is now a director of the club. With five executive directors the agency now has a sizeable squad. 'We're trying to build a full team and a team of reserves,' joked Westminster's Geoffrey Bowden.

A group of Britain's biggest companies got together in London last week to discuss a persistent problem - bullying at work. The workshop, organised by Personal Performance Consultants, said that bullying is a big contributor to stress, low morale and inefficiency in the workplace.

Andrea Adams, a writer and broadcaster who led the discussion, says that in Sweden up to 400 suicides a year are attributed to macho tactics at work.

Britain is not exempt. Last October, it emerged that at one large Scottish company, over 100 people had complained of bullying by the chief executive. One woman was so distraught that, after yet another barracking, she threatened to throw herself down the stairs and had to be restrained by a colleague. In spite of repeated complaints to the company's medical officer the bullying is still going on. 'The problem is that if it goes on, it tends to cascade down the organisation and become almost normal practice,' says Ms Adams.

'Bullies are often insecure people, who cannot cope with stress,' Ms Adams says. Her advice to the bullied is to keep all correspondence and make notes recording verbal attacks. 'The problem is that in this country we tend to believe authority.'