Pembroke: Sir George, homeward bound

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The Independent Online
SIR GEORGE RUSSELL, chairman of the Independent Television Commission, is to return to his roots next month as new chairman of the Northern Development Company.

Sir George, 58, will succeed Sir Ron Dearing, former chairman of the Post Office, whose three-year term of office expires next month after an extension for a fourth year.

The appointment will be officially announced by the corporation, which aims to create jobs in the five northernmost English counties, next Tuesday. Sir George is an eminent local boy made good, born in Gateshead and educated at the local grammar school and at Durham University.

But his colleagues at 3i and Marley, where he is also chairman, need not worry that his new job will divert him too much from his responsibilities to them. He will be expected to spend only a day a week up north.

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AS THE relieved brokers at Bell Lawrie White in Edinburgh celebrated the exoneration of their colleague, Thorold Mackie, with the odd wee dram, thoughts turned to a seminar in Edinburgh organised by the Securities Institute for 18 March. Alec Lyell, of Bell Lawrie, is president of the institute in Scotland and will be chairing the seminar on, er, insider trading.

Among those addressing the gathering will be Mike Feltham, head of surveillance at the Stock Exchange, which - with the DTI - carried out the investigation that resulted in the case against Mr Mackie.

Whether Mr Mackie himself will turn up is not clear.

STAFF AT Design magazine await news of their future as Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, considers a review of the Design Council's operations. One possibility is that the services to industry function of the council will be farmed out to Business Links - DTI offices around the country - while the council would be reduced to a concentrated research body. In that case the flagship magazine would be sold to another publisher.

Two days after the DTI pronounces on the review, a video company will film John Sorrell, chairman of the council, and Evelyn Ryle, a director, summarising what's in store.

Copies of the video will be despatched to the regional offices so that next day, at precisely 3.30pm, the council's entire staff countrywide can simultaneously watch their future unravel before them.

Is the video just a way of avoiding confrontation with the staff? There's not much point in throwing rotten fruit at a television screen. But the journalists are looking forward to winding back the best bits about possible redundancies and replaying them.

THE SO-CALLED Socialist Republic of Islington has attempted to strike another blow against the forces of capitalist darkness.

The latest issue of the London Gazette carries news of a petition from Islington Council to wind up Grand Metropolitan Estates, no less, for non-payment of rates on the Exmouth Arms, a popular hostelry in the borough.

But Sir Allen Sheppard, Grand Met's chairman, can breathe easy. The council yesterday withdrew the writ. A spokesman said it had been decided there were more appropriate ways of resolving the problem.

THE PEOPLE who pop up on share registers these days. Ronnie Biggs, the fugitive train robber, has invested in Split Cycle Technology, an Australian company that is developing what it claims is a revolutionary new internal combustion engine.

Split Cycle's directors include Sir Jack Brabham, the legendary former world motor racing champion. The company is unperturbed by its other famous investor.

Rick Mayne, who invented the technology and is a director, told the Australian Financial Review that the publicity was not a worry: 'Look at the share register of any company and you'll find criminals in there . . .'