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Journalism - The Guardian

City diary
Thursday November 28, 2002

  • A year on from accepting its new wide-ranging powers, the FSA finally has something to boast about: the Foreign Press Association's award for press office of the year. Narrowly beating the Met and Downing Street, ex-BBC business editor John Fryer was cock-a-hoop when he ran up on stage to accept the gleaming prize. Unfortunately, the assembled masses were less sure - possibly something to do with Interbrew or Equitable Life or split capital trusts - and booed the watchdog representative all the way. But, demonstrating the very skills that won them the award, the FSA press office claims to have no knowledge of the alleged discontent. "No, I was there and I didn't hear anything like that," a spokesman told us. "It was certainly lively and there was some jeering, but not any booing." Spoken like a true professional.

  • Talking of Interbrew and the FSA's heavy handed effort to force newspapers into handing over leaked documents, we were delighted to receive a pitch from Clear Intentions and its "equine natural leadership" programme, where companies are given the chance to pay large sums to ride around on stubborn horses for a couple of days. Interbrew was obviously impressed because it spent "200,000 and eight months sending 90 top execs including the board of directors" on it. It seems likely though that while "inspiring people to go way past their imagined limits", it didn't foresee taking confidential documents and giving them to the press.

  • Yet more CBI Manchester conference madness. Anti-globalisation protesters managed to get into the GMex and engulf the BP stall in dye (we don't know what colour). Meanwhile Amicus was protesting about pay and the FBU protested against whatever was left. With so many of the UK's great and good - well, great anyway - at the event, you have to wonder how so many of these evil subversives got in. According to our man on the ground, by simply walking in. Even bags weren't checked. Many may see this as a shocking lapse of security but we'd rather view it as continuing the great British tradition of standing firm against the threat of terror by drinking tea and not really worrying about it.

  • CBI head and gaffe master Digby Jones, meanwhile, far from being appalled by the protests, was reportedly delighted that the event had become so politicised. At least it showed people gave a damn about the CBI. The ego can be a power for good too.

  • Allders is not having an easy time of it: sales down, profits halved and Minerva sniffing about. But then it is hard to have sympathy for a company that had to write off 4.6m because it decided to open a store in Romford. Romford boasts Europe's biggest housing estate and Britain's ugliest building in the Ster Century cinema. It was also picked to be the capital of Britain by racist right-wing group Combat 18 once the revolution had come. As an Allders spokesman surmised: "I don't think the location captured consumers' imagination."

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