PEMBROKE : To the aid of the party

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The Independent Online
NatWest may be cursing the day it gave Peter Fanning leave of absence for a year to work at the Labour Party's Westminster Treasury team.

The capital markets guru, who was secretary of the Birmingham University Labour Party and who is seeking a seat in Parliament, has been quietly working with Chris Smith, Treasury spokesman, on planning Labour's seduction of the City. He helped devise Labour's slick response to the Budget.

The campaign of love hit a nasty bump last week when comments by Gordon Brown were interpreted as an attack on excessive bank charges. Fears of a banking levy arose. NatWest may be wondering about its employee's role in the affair.

"I did not formulate that policy, but did provide background information," said an embarrassed Fanning, 37. "I suppose some people would regard it as ironic," he admits.

Two Armani-suited Saatchi executives were leaving Charlotte street for their prandials yesterday. "Will you be back after lunch?" a colleague shouted after them. "We'll see what they offer," came the gallows humour reply.