No time should be wasted asking them to reform – just do it

Bank robber admits bomb hoax and firearm charges

A convicted robber who terrified staff and customers by telling them he had a bomb as he held up a bank pleaded guilty to a string of charges today, police said.

Richard Lambert: What business leaders want next: A growth strategy

The cuts were needed, but so is a plan for growth

The Business on John Varley, Chief executive, Barclays Bank

I thought that rich American bloke ran Barclays these days?

Simon Read: When will the banks start listening to our fair complaints?

Another week, another astonishing list of complaints about our banks. On Thursday it was the Financial Service Authority's turn to release statistics demonstrating just how little banks care about customer service. The City watchdog reported that around 1.3 million complaints about poor service or the misselling of financial products were logged against the high street banks in just six months.

Geoghegan to leave HSBC as board considers chairmanship

The future of HSBC, Britain's largest bank, was last night thrown into disarray as it emerged that Micheal Geoghegan, its chief executive, is now almost certain to step down at the end of the year after failing to secure the chairman's role.

Business Diary: The bottle to take on Volvic

Handbags at dawn in the bottled water industry. Volvic, the French water giant, has put out a triumphant press release championing what it claims is the "UK's first plastic bottle made using plant material". That's really got up the nose of Belu, one of its British rivals, which is renowned for its high ethical and environmental standards. A spokesman haughtily points out that it has been using bottles made from corn since 2006. Thank goodness these folk don't drink anything stronger than water.

LSE asks MWM to find new chairman

The London Stock Exchange has appointed MWM Consulting, the headhunting company run by Anna Mann, to help it find a possible new chairman.

Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (19/09/10)

Is the Putin administration secretly funding the Tory party? I only ask because of an intriguing donation that has popped up on the Electoral Commission's register of interests, from a mysterious Russian hedge fund. In March this year, £10,000 was donated by Xenon Capital Partners, a Moscow-based fund created apparently for the sole purpose of advising Russian state-owned companies in the energy industry, which also manages a $2bn state-owned power utilities fund. Of course, it's all above board, as the company is also registered to an address in London, and British companies are allowed to donate as much as they like to political parties. Still, makes you wonder.

Business Diary: Red signal for Virgin Trains

It looks like Virgin Trains picked the wrong man to annoy when a string of its staff rather let down Simon Middleton at Crewe station recently. Mr Middleton is in the process of promoting his book, Build a Brand in 30 Days, and thus has access to the services of a public relations agency. It promptly put together a press release cataloguing Virgin's shabby treatment of Mr Middleton, and sent it to hundreds of journalists. Virgin seems to have forgotten the golden rule: the customer is always right, especially if he has some influence.

Business Diary: Celebrities turn out in the City

To BGC Partners in Canary Wharf, for its annual charity day. The brokerage, part of Cantor Fitzgerald, has been hosting the bash for several years to commemorate the 9/11 attacks on the US, in which more than 650 of its staff lost their lives. Yesterday's event produced a good turnout, with celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Penny Lancaster, David Coulthard, Honor Blackman, Johnny Vaughan, Lisa Snowden and Cilla Black all swapping places with BGC's brokers to close out deals. The event raises millions of pounds for around 75 charities, but there's no news yet on whether the stars also made more money for BGC than its own brokers normally manage.

Letters: Hatred

Muslims left to face hatred

Business Diary: Now it's Ryanair the opera

We're loving Fascinating Aida (they style themselves as Britain's top female comedy singing trio, though it can't be a large category) and their take on the blessed Ryanair. Check it out for yourself on YouTube, but this sample lyric sums it up: "Cheap flights, cheap flights, we should have gone by sea; there's no such thing as fecking flights for 50p." The tirade – though no doubt Ryanair will see it as more of a tribute – continues in that fashion for a good five minutes.

Business Diary: HR Owen boss is well-qualified

At first sight, the appointment of Andy Duncan, the former Channel Four as the new chief executive of HR Owen, the posh motor dealer, looks a little curious. From television studio to car showroom is an unusual career move. Still, at least Mr Duncan's personal choice of motor won't embarrass him in front of his new colleagues. Our spies tell us he drives a rather swish Audi S5 turbo cabriolet – not much change out of £40,000 for that one.

David Prosser: Bob Diamond joins the investment bankers running Britain's banks

Outlook It is almost two years to the day since the British Government, via the Financial Services Authority, effectively vetoed Barclays Bank's plan to buy Lehman Brothers, condemning the failing American investment bank to collapse. And although Bob Diamond, the Barclays man championing the takeover, was furious, he has much to be grateful for. Had Barclays been saddled with Lehman in its entirety, its ability to ride out the rest of the financial crisis would have been in question. Instead, it bought Lehman's choicest assets at a knock-down price and Mr Diamond came up smelling of roses.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home