People & Business: A new job and new 'minder'. Sir David declares himself delighted

Spotted at Margaret Beckett's introductory drinks party at the DTI on Wednesday night - Sir David Simon, formerly of BP and now New Labour's Minister for Competitiveness in Europe. Also there was Lucie McNeil, the DTI's information officer for trade, who Sir David introduced as "my new Roddy Kennedy". This refers to Sir David's long-time press spokesman at BP.

Sir David caused a bit of a frisson when he went on to declare how delighted he was to have such a beautiful "minder". The delightful Ms McNeil blushed bright pink. The "trappings of power" are obviously going to the BP man's head.

Fascinating to hear Sir Iain Vallance of BT declare: "I wouldn't have voted Labour if I'd known BT would have been involved in the windfall tax." (See page 22). So the question arises - how long has Sir Iainbeen a dyed in the wool Labour voter? The blue-pinstriped telecoms big cheese refused to say.

However, in the hotbed of socialism that has become BT headquarters near St Pauls, Sir Iain did say he had "voted Labour before". Can he really have voted for Michael Foot in 1983, whose manifesto was famously described as "the longest suicide note in history"?

Subsequent research shows more deep-rooted links between Labour and the BT board. We can exclusively reveal that the great grandfather of Robert Brace, BT's finance director, was a minister in one of the first Labour governments

Sir William Brace was, according to Robert, "something in the Welsh office before becoming Inspector of Mines"

So when exactly was this, we asked. "Well," said Mr Brace, "it must have been in Lloyd George's time, before the First World War."

Hang on a minute. I thought the first Labour Government was formed in 1924. Never mind. I'm sure Mr Brace's understanding of accountancy vastly exceeds his knowledge of history.

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB may have courted controversy by buying up the TV rights to every sporting event in sight, but there is another less famous company doing the same thing for sports catering. Compass made $1bn worth of acquisitions last year, and while most of it concerned companies that provide catering for business and industry, there was another side.

This was highlighted yesterday when Compass bought National Leisure Catering, which provides food and drink for Wembley stadium and the Oval cricket ground. Compass's UK chief executive Francis Mackay, an old pal of Granada's Gerry Robinson, can now lay claim to the catering for Twickenham, Ascot, Aintree, Cheltenham, Arsenal and Spurs, as well as yesterday's additions.

So is Compass worried about being scrutinised by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission? "No," replies, Ron Morley, Compass company secretary. "There is a lot of competition still. There are a large number of companies prepared to do this kind of catering."

While Compass can provide beer at Twickers, escalopes at Ascot and burgers at Spurs, it still hasn't got its hands on strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Any plans there? "That's done by a firm called Ring and Brymer," says Mr Morley. "It would be a nice one to have, but we have no plans for it at the moment," he adds, wistfully.

Accountants are usually a pretty grey bunch. Not so Richard Hall, the partner from Binder Hamlyn who is due to take over as director of finance at the Royal Opera House in July.

Mr Hall says he fell in love with opera and ballet at a young age. For instance, he became fascinated by La Boheme at the age of 12. "I also spent a couple of years working in Milan, so there were visits to La Scala," he says,

The Opera House is involved in its own drama at the moment. It has lost its chief executive Genista McIntosh after just four months, with Mary Allen of the Arts Council stepping into the breach. Mr Hall says he was appointed before Ms McIntosh's surprise departure, but denies he has cold feet over the new job. "I'm very excited. There is an awful lot that needs to be done," he says.

Most recently Mr Hall has been working with the Church of England and Westminster Abbey. Perhaps now's the time to pray for a bit of divine intervention.

Mining really is a more exotic world than the rest of business. Take Jim Ainsworth. He's just been appointed chairman of Gold Mines of Sardinia (GMS) having recently retired as chairman of Sons of Gwalia, while he was also a founding partner of Warrior International. They sound more like Spielberg films than gold mining companies.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect