Top billing for red faces at stockbroker awards

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John Kemp-Welch, chairman of the London Stock Exchange, has found himself in the embarrassing position of being billed as the presenter of an award to David Jones, the chief executive of ShareLink.

Mr Kemp-Welch's venerable institution, lest it be forgotten, announced last week that it had decided to sue Mr Jones after comments he made on the radio concerning a dispute between the two organisations. The Stock Exchange also warned it might take disciplinary proceedings against ShareLink.

In the meantime, however, ShareLink, the private-client stockbroker, has been voted Execution-only Stockbroker of the Year by readers of Investors Chronicle magazine.

Earlier this week, the Investors Chronicle pre-publicity for Thursday's event proclaimed that: "The awards will be presented at a breakfast ceremony at the Financial Times by John Kemp-Welch."

The current tension, however, may have caused a re-think.

A check call yesterday to the London Stock Exchange, to inquire whether the institution's chairman really was about to present an award to Mr Jones, provoked the following response: "Mr Kemp-Welch will be at the awards but he will not be presenting the Stockbroker of the Year Award. That will be presented by the publisher of Financial Times magazines. Mr Kemp-Welch will present the Advisory Portfolio Management Award."

Polhill Communications, the public relations company helping to arrange the ceremony, was rather less clear. A spokeswoman said: "Mr Kemp-Welch may well present all the awards, some of the awards, or just one of them. There is nothing written in stone.

"I was aware that things were..." She stopped, and added: "but there's going to be no problem. Nothing's going to stand in the way of this particular issue." Quite.

The relationship between the Stock Exchange and Mr Jones, who is a former Exchange board member, has never been a very happy one.

Mr Jones left the board last year afteronly six months. But the relationship was brought to an all-time low by the Stock Exchange's decision to cut off the right for ShareLink, and its partner ESI, to publish real-time share prices to its subscribers for a service it was planning to run on the Internet.

Mr Jones responded in fury to the Stock Exchange's actions. "It is a matter of surprise and regret that the Stock Exchange has not only stifled a valuable new service to private investors but also sought to stifle any reasoned debate on the merits of its extraordinary actions. "Unless we can reach a sensible solution, the court will have to decide - but meanwhile the public will suffer."

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