Wray goes on a lion hunt in the wilds of South Africa

People & Business
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Nigel Wray, the Burford property developer who controls Nottingham Forest and the Saracens rugby club, is currently chasing lions, in more ways than one.

The lucky chap is in South Africa watching the heroic progress of the British Lions and in between rugby matches takes his family on safari. Incidentally, I'm told there will be no formal announcement regarding Kenneth Clarke becoming chairman of Forest until Mr Wray returns from the veldt.

No doubt Mr Wray has taken his cheque book in the hope of signing a few South African players for Saracens. On the other hand, considering the Springboks' poor form so far, he might prefer to stick to home-grown produce.

Nigel Griffiths, the new Consumer Affairs Minister, must feel like he's appearing in an episode of Yes, Minister. Mr Griffiths has already crossed swords with his civil servants over his preference for starting the working day at 7am. He doesn't like taking ministerial red boxes home, so he needs an early start to get through all the bumf. This has caused problems, apparently, since it has required a special security pass for the minister - nobody else gets in that early.

Mr Griffiths also suffered a disappointment at the hands of his own Sir Humphrey recently when the minister said he wanted to make a statement on alcopops, the recently introduced alcoholic soft drinks. "No," replied his civil servant adviser. "The Home Office is now dealing with it."

The unfortunate minister asked "Since when?" and the civil servant replied curtly: "Last night."

It's not just Tories who have been looking for jobs post the election. Richard Elsen, former deputy leader of New Labour's rapid rebuttal unit, has joined financial spin doctors Ludgate. Mr Elsen, 34, will advise Ludgate corporate clients on government affairs.

Hang on a minute. I thought all this corporate lobbying was supposed to die with the Major government. Mr Elsen puts my mind at rest, however: "With the new Labour Government, businesses need to build relationships on a fresh, post-Nolan basis.

"Some have seen my move from New Labour's rapid rebuttal unit to Ludgate as something of a gamekeeper-turned-poacher situation, but I see it as an opportunity to build on the business-friendly approach adopted by the new Government."

Splendid. The directors of the privatised utilities and Camelot will be delighted to hear it.

Talking of spin doctors, Andrew Dowler of the City PR firm Financial Dynamics helped organise the glitzy London premiere of the movie Batman and Robin on Monday night. He observed that "Uma Thurman is very tall - the tallest person in the film" and "George Clooney is a dwarf".

At the end of the event Mr Dowler tried to prompt Arnold Schwarzenegger to utter one of his famous lines such as, "I'll be back" but all he got was "Goodbye."

In the same week that Bill Cockburn resigned as chief executive of WH Smith after just 18 months, his predecessor, Sir Malcolm Field, notched up another non-executive directorship, this time at wall coverings distributor Walker Greenbank.

Sir Malcolm was a part of the old guard at WH Smith before Mr Cockburn came along with the brief to shake things up and turn them around. Sir Malcolm joined the family newspaper distribution business in 1960 and when WH Smith bought the company in 1963 his career path was set.

Sir Malcolm had a rough time of it towards the end - WH Smith issued a profits warning while he was chief executive and then recorded its first loss in its 200-year history. Now he is ensconced as chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and is a non-exec at Scottish and Newcastle.

Some people will do anything to get in the papers. Here's Patrick Bulmer, a director of ABN Amro Causeway, celebrating at the opening of the latest Mill House bar and family restaurant. The Causeway, at Redhill, Surrey, has been named after his company, which is Mill House's financial backer. Will this start a trend?

Stand by for the Bayerische Bar and the Paribas Pub.