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
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam