hei-fi

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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
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South Africa
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there