Pembroke: Mr Mellor tells it like it is

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The Independent Online
If you want to plug into politics, turn straight to David Mellor's column in the Evening Standard on Mondays. After all, as he was keen to tell us in his most recent column, Mr Mellor still enjoys the ear of senior politicians, including N Lamont Esq: 'His appetite for politics is undiminished, as I discovered over lunch on Thursday.'

And what did the rest of Monday's column reveal? 'As recently as yesterday Norman had made no plans to speak this week, and my guess is he won't. He'll take his time. He'll mull things over. He'll regain his strength, and then devote his energies to a book that will set out, without rancour and without any desire for vengeance, his defence of those turbulent months at Number 11 . . .'

'He is too big a man, too decent and warm-hearted, Samson-like to pull the roof of the House of Commons down on to the heads of his colleagues this week.'

And a Treasury and Civil Service Committee hearing on the role of the Bank of England was abruptly cancelled yesterday, causing grave disappointment to those hoping to hear testimony from Sir Peter Middleton, former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and now a BZW director, and Sir George Blunden, former deputy governor of the Bank of England.

A TCSC spokesman explained that the hearing was cancelled because it clashed with the obviously more gripping events in the House of Commons.

Yesterday was a sad day for Waddingtons, whose chairman, Victor Watson, stepped down after 40 years with the company that is more famous for the games Monopoly and Cluedo than its plastic bottles. Mr Watson fended off no fewer than four takeover bids as chairman - two of which were launched by Robert Maxwell.

Last year David Perry, the vice- chairman, reminisced about his own arrival at Waddingtons. 'Eleven years ago I was working for one of Mr Maxwell's companies when Victor persuaded me to join Waddingtons. He also suggested it would be a good idea if I brought my pension contribution with me, which I promptly did.'

Mr Watson's canniness did not stop there. Back in 1984 it was he who, while seeing off the dastardly Maxwell, discovered the existence of an enigmatic foundation - then called the Pergamon Holding Foundation, now the Liechtenstein-based Maxwell Foundation - whose beneficiaries were the grandchildren of the parents of Robert and Betty Maxwell. Nine years on and the foundation, and its funds, remain a mystery.

Michael Heseltine, the President of the Board of Trade, is clearly keen to promote a squeaky-clean image for the DTI. Asked yesterday if his department's efforts to suport exports should extend - as they do - to foreign firms in Britain, he said: 'If it is a company based here, we will help it to win . . . (pause, smile) . . . as long as it is within the law.'