Commerce turns gamekeeper to poacher: 'Revolving door' leads to lucrative posts in private sector for civil servants and politicians with insider expertise. Simon Midgley reports

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The Independent Online
SIR DUNCAN NICHOL'S move from chief executive of the NHS to Bupa board member is the latest example in a recent British tradition of gamekeeper turning poacher.

Scores of leading politicians and senior civil servants have in the past few years crossed the road from government to commerce and industry, taking with them the insider expertise and knowledge gained in decades of public service.

Those who have already been through the revolving door include: Lord Tebbit, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1983-85, who privatised British Telecom in November 1984. He became a non-executive board director of British Telecommunications Plc in 1987.

Lord Walker of Worcester, as Peter Walker, Secretary of State for Energy in 1983-87, privatised British Gas in 1986. He was appointed a non-executive member of the board in 1990.

Sir Norman Fowler, as Secretary of State for Transport (1981) introduced legislation into Parliament to privatise NFC, the national freight company. It was privatised in 1982. He is now a director of NFC.

As Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1987-89, Lord Young of Graffham had responsibility for British telecommunications policy. Mercury Communications Ltd, which is 80 per cent owned by Cable and Wireless (it became a C&W subsidiary in 1984), was given a licence in 1982. Lord Young has been executive chairman of Cable and Wireless since 1990.

Sir Frank Cooper was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, 1976- 82. In 1986, he became chairman of High Integrity Systems Ltd, which develops software and hardware for many defence organisations. He was also a director of Westland Helicopters, 1983-85; Babcock International, 1983-90; Morgan Crucible, 1983-93; N M Rothschild since 1983; and chairman of United Scientific Holdings, 1985-89.

Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1983-89, became a non-executive director of Barclays Bank in February 1990. He was also an adviser to BZW, the bank's investment arm, from February 1990 to March 1991.

Sir Peter Middleton was permanent secretary at the Treasury between 1983 and 1991. He joined Barclays Bank in November 1991 as deputy chairman of Barclays and chairman of BZW.

Lord Gowrie was Minister for Arts 1983-85 and became chairman of Sotheby's International 1985-86, then chairman of Sotheby's in 1987.

(Photographs omitted)