Captain Moonlight's Notebook: The boss's lady gets a leg up on to the board

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The Independent Online
CONRAD BLACK, the newspaper magnate and short-skirt enthusiast, has decided to enlarge the board of the Spectator magazine by adding his wife, the journalist Barbara Amiel, and the former chairman of British Airways, Lord King. The two are to be 'voted' members at the next board meeting on 13 May. Algy Cluff, the chairman and a former proprietor, told me he had already canvassed his colleagues so the election of Mrs Black and Lord King was a 'foregone conclusion'.

No one is quite sure what the board of the Spectator does since the magazine's editors have always insisted on editorial control. It meets every quarter for a report from the editor, Dominic Lawson, and then everyone heads for Brooks's Club, or the Army and Cavalry, or the Ritz Hotel for a pleasant dinner. One member said the board 'does not control the magazine, nor does it interfere editorially. We do, however, make clear our views'. Mr Cluff said he and his colleagues just kept a fatherly eye on what was going on.

Board members are a mixed bunch. Algy Cluff, an oil man, bought the magazine in 1980 from the Hong Kong taipan Henry Keswick and sold it on in 1985 to the Fairfax group of Australia, which subsequently went bust and which Mr Black partly owns. Mr Cluff set up the board and has stayed chairman ever since despite two changes of ownership. Other members are: Patrick Sheehy, chairman of British American Tobacco; Lord Tebbit; Sir Peregrine Worsthorne; Christopher Fildes, the financial journalist; Dan Colson, a lawyer; and Mr Black himself.

Lord King and Mrs Black will be quite at home with the 'robust' views which this lot exchange over the dinner table, but since the Spectator's old rival, the New Statesman, is in such trouble there will at least be no need for dirty tricks.

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