Gas man set for royal job

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SIMON LEWIS, currently director of corporate affairs at Centrica, the supply arm of British Gas, last night emerged as the frontrunner for the post of director of communications for Buckingham Palace.

Mr Lewis, 39, is said to be on friendly terms with key players in the new Labour inner circle and earns a six figure sum. He is likely to be seconded to the Palace by Centrica, which would pay around half his pounds 150,000 salary for up to three years. Mr Lewis lives in north London with his wife and two children. He has previously advised David Owen's Social Democratic Party and is an experienced City public relations executive.

Headhunters have drawn up a shortlist which has been rumoured to also include Anji Hunter, an adviser to Tony Blair, and Charles Lewington, the Tories' communications chief at the last election.

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