Lord Birt, Tony Blair's new special transport adviser, is tied up in a £100 million business deal with Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Trains. Birt operates from luxury offices where a life-sized cardboard cutout of Branson greets visitors. At the same time he has a direct line to Tony Blair. Birt is chairman of the Lynx New Media company.
But he forgot to mention to the House of Lords register of members' interests that the company is in effect managed by the Virgin Media Group. Blair put Birt in charge of 'blue skies thinking' over transport. A part of this is determining where investment will go in the rail network owned by Birt's privateer chums.