Cad catches cold from credibility gap

Publicist struggling to repair his own standing
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The Independent Online
As suspended 'superwoman' Nicola Horlick took her fight against Morgan Grenfell Asset Management on to the streets of London at the weekend, no one was wincing more than Anthony Cardew, the City public relations man who has been advising her on her strategy - or at least thought he was.

Fellow spin doctors in the Square Mile have been astounded by the pension manager's publicity-seeking antics. They suspect that "the Cad" may even have to devise a damage limitation strategy for himself to stop his own chances of securing lucrative work in future from sinking as low as hers.

Piers Pottinger, of Lowe Bell Financial, spoke for many yesterday when he exclaimed: "I was quite amazed to see Anthony getting involved in these shenanigans, which won't do him any favours in the City. It's just not his style. Indeed, it's more Max Clifford than Anthony Cardew."

Mr Pottinger, a former colleague of Mr Cardew, suspects that he gave Mrs Horlick sound advice which she simply refused to take. Mr Cardew confirms that he had never met her before she became front page news. He took her on "because several very senior people in the City asked me to".

Although said by associates to be "a real name-dropper", he was careful not to divulge who these people were, and whether any of them are former colleagues at MGAM.

Still, Mr Cardew is sticking by his newest and most unwieldy client, having finally persuaded her - with the help of her lawyers, who are said to be equally disturbed by her behaviour - to retreat from the limelight.

The 47-year-old head of Cardew & Co said yesterday: "Having made her case, Mrs Horlick has taken the advice of several people and is now maintaining silence, which is entirely sensible and proper. There have been some thrills and spills along the way which were perhaps unnecessary ... there has been quite unprecedented volume of coverage of what's really a local affair."

The "locality" he has in mind is the City of London, where it is customary for dissatisfied executives and institutions to part company in a decidedly more discreet manner. Such discretion is normally assisted, it should be said, by golden gags.

Mr Cardew knows the rules and usually plays by them. He would take grave exception if anyone described him as the Max Clifford of the City. The Cad (after Fifties comedian Cardew 'the Cad' Robinson) practically lives in the Reform Club, according to friends. Educated at Marlborough, he assiduously cultivates the image of a country gentleman and is particularly keen on shooting.

Cardew & Co employs 30 people and heads up the second division of financial PR firms with an annual fee income of around pounds 3.5m according to the trade journal PR Week. It was founded in 1991 when Mr Cardew left Saatchi and Saatchi's PR subsidiary Gradfield Rork, Collins in acrimonious circumstances. Its plush, classically decorated office near the National Gallery even has its own butler. With a client list including Eurotunnel, British Aerospace, Lonrho and Allied Domecq, such luxuries are affordable. Cardew specialises in mergers and acquisitions and is used to playing the long game. This is fortunate, for it may take a long time for Nicola Horlick to repair the serious damage she has done to her credibility in the last few days.

Even Anthony Cardew admits to having a major image rehabilitation job on his hands. As he puts it: "It's like an oil tanker. It will take time to turn around."