Pembroke: Rescue drama at the PIA

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The Independent Online
Unprecedented action at the Personal Investment Authority yesterday afternoon during a bomb scare near its Royal Exchange offices behind the Bank of England. Chairman Joe Palmer was out all day, so he was all right. Chief executive Colette Bowe, returning from a meeting, was turned away by police who had cordoned off the area.

The PIA's easy-going company secretary, David Peffer, was less fortunate. The cordon left him inside the building, where he stoically manned the phones until Ms Bowe and the rest were allowed back in. The poor chap is taking it personally: 'I'm clearly considered expendable.'

Still no love lost between Pauline Hyde, the grande dame of the outplacement world, and Scottish Television, which took over Ms Hyde's group in 1988 and cleared out the management last year.

Scottish TV seemed keen to smoke the pipe of peace when director Don Kinloch invited Ms Hyde to his retirement party recently. Ms Hyde, now with the rival firm Lee Hecht Harrison, had mixed feelings but was rescued when she had to go to America instead. 'I was rather relieved, to be honest,' she says.

Iknow casinos are supposed to keep themelves squeaky clean, but Crockfords, the Mayfair casino, seems to have gone a bit far by appointing a policeman to its board. John Woodcock, 62, was the chief inspector of constabulary and principal adviser on policing matters to the Home Secretary from 1990 to 1993. 'He's more of civil servant really,' Crockfords' chairman, Garry Nesbitt, explains. 'But we are a casino business and although we don't handle that much cash, his knowledge of security matters will be helpful.'

Crockfords' generous non- exec salaries will come in handy for Sir John, who only retired recently (presumably with full police pension). He can look forward to pounds 25,000 a year.

The stockbroker Granville Davies is beefing up its smaller companies team. Roger Hardman has been poached from James Capel and starts next month. And Ian Spence joins from the weekly Investors Chronicle on Monday. The team has now reached such proportions (eight) that an office extension may be necessary. 'We might have to knock down a partition,' a spokesman jokes.

Spare a thought for Knight Williams, the beleaguered firm of independent financial advisers. The company is having to deal with hundreds of its investors, many of them pensioners, who believe they have been poorly advised over the years.

Now the firm has become so paranoid that it refuses to talk to the press. Colin Pinnell, KW's head of compliance, is one who has decided to shun the spotlight. 'He doesn't want to talk to you,' a colleague was told over the phone. 'Write him a letter instead.'

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