Socialist Worker

'League of shame' firms honoured

Issue No. 1756

Inside the system

'League of shame' firms honoured

THE QUEEN'S birthday honours list which was announced recently shows the businessmen New Labour loves.

Those "honoured" include:

  • Paul Barrett, international director and vice-president for Africa of GlaxoSmithKline. This firm led the unsuccessful attempt to stop South Africa getting cheaper drugs to combat AIDS.
  • David Hartridge, retiring director of the services division of the World Trade Organisation.
  • Susan Crouch, a managing director of Spearhead Exhibitions. Her MBE was for "services to exports". These exports are arms. Spearhead arranges international arms fairs, including one where illegal mines were sold.
  • Nick Prest, chairman and chief executive of Alvis, seller of armoured vehicles to repressive regimes in Turkey, Nigeria and Indonesia.
  • Gareth Jones, environmental director of Wessex Water, received an MBE. A week before his honour was announced, Wessex Water was fined �6,598 for pouring raw sewage into a Dorset stream. The month previous the firm was fined �2,425 for pouring raw sewage into the River Avon, the same offence it was fined for in January. Last year Wessex had to pay out �5,350 for putting 9,000 litres of diesel fuel into groundwater. In 1998 Wessex was fourth in the Environment Agency's "league of shame", a table of the highest fines paid by British firms.

COLIN Byrne ran the "business relations unit" at Labour's Millbank headquarters during the general election. He has now returned to his usual job as chief executive at the lobbying firm Shandwick.

Shandwick has just won a �100,000 account from burger giant McDonald's for Colin Byrne to work on McDonald's relations with government. 


Out of her tree

DENISE RICH is the ex-wife of billionaire tax fugitive Marc Rich. He was given a presidential pardon by Bill Clinton before he left office. Mrs Rich lives up to her name. She paid over �3 million for a mansion outside New York and �2 million to decorate it.

She then spent tens of thousands of pounds having a 100 square foot replica of the mansion built as a treehouse. Rich then realised there was no tree big enough to take the tree house. So she spent �150,000 importing a 150 year old specimen to spruce up the garden.


Drinks test

EXAM STRESS can drive you to drink. But you don't expect to be able to have one during the test itself. That was the situation students at New College in Nottingham found themselves facing.

Managers botched up plans for the exams so badly they had to hastily book emergency venues. Students had to sit papers in the Nottingham Polish Community Centre bar. Incredibly, nobody closed the bar. Students found strangers walking past their desks to order drinks.


No adverts ban on fag firms

NEW LABOUR did not put a tobacco advertising ban in the Queen's Speech. Perhaps ministers should read the speech by Sir Richard Peto to the Third Global Conference for Cancer Organisations. Peto said, "There will be 150 million tobacco deaths in the first 25 years of this century and 300 million in the second quarter."

In all, he said, one billion people will die because of tobacco this century. Most of them will be in developing countries, specially targeted by fag firms like British American Tobacco and its spokesperson, Tory Kenneth Clark. All the evidence shows that nobody will die from cannabis.


Billion dollar men

BRITAIN HAS 13 men worth a billion dollars or more, according to Forbes Global magazine. They are:

  • Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, $6.5 billion.
  • Bruno Schroder, $2.7 billion.
  • Bernie Ecclestone, $2.5 billon.
  • Adrian Swire , $2.1 billion.
  • John Hargreaves, $1.9 billion.
  • Richard Branson, $1.8 billion.
  • Lakshmi Mittal, $1.8 billion.
  • Kenneth Morrison, $1.7 billion.
  • Stelios Haji-Ioannou, $1.5 billion.
  • Anthony Barnford, $1.3 billion.
  • Viscount Rothermere, $1.1 billion
  • Gerald Cadogan, $1 billion.
  • Mark Dixon, $1 billion.

The world's richest man is Bill Gates of Microsoft. He has assets worth $58.7 billion.


Lethal plastic

POLICE IN Greater Manchester want to use the new style plastic bullets the Ministry of Defence admits can cause severe injuries. Oldham in Greater Manchester has seen protests by Asians fighting back against racists targeting their communities and the police indifference to these attacks.

Now police officers want to increase the tension by being allowed to fire "potentially lethal weapons", as described by the chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation. In Northern Ireland plastic bullets have led to at least 17 deaths.


GERALD Corbett, Railtrack's former chief executive, is not content with his �1.4 million payoff, revealed last week. He will also get a second top-up pension of �55,000 when he retires in the future.

Corbett is now a senior executive at Woolworths, where he has just signed another contract. His last contract paid �200,000 for six months "work". His new boardroom colleagues defended these handouts on the grounds that it was "normal".


Pissing prince

THE HUSBAND of Princess Caroline of Monaco has been ordered to pay �315,000 for yelling at a newspaper editor. The paper accused Prince Ernst August of Hanover of urinating in public. Prince Ernst has appealed against the fine-one of three for rowdy behaviour pending against him.

The prince has already paid out �370,000 in connection with the beating of a disco owner and �250,000 for injuring a photographer.


Things they say

"SEASONAL soup �4, grilled chicken breast with bacon �6.95, grilled lamb steak with mash �6.95."

  • MENU FOR DOGS at the Bluebird Cafe owned by Sir Jasper Conran

"GENERAL inequality has been becoming more grievous with every year that passes, and without a bleat from the leaders of the party who once spoke up so trenchantly and characteristically for greater equality."

  • MICHAEL YOUNG, former secretary of the Labour Party policy committee responsible for drafting the 1945 manifesto

"LABOUR failed to notice that, if anything, public opinion moved to the left during the Thatcher era. With its obsession with privatisation and failure to improve public services New Labour was old Thatcherism writ large."

  • IAIN GILMOUR, former Tory minister

"I WOULD like to wish her well in whatever guise she next appears."

  • DAVID BLUNKETT on Ann Widdecombe

"I DO not think I could look my community in the face if I allowed the police to use my poem. I love 'The London Breed'. It is a real celebration of multicultural Britain, but the police do not reflect that."

  • Poet BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH rejecting Metropolitan Police plans to use one of his poems to attract ethnic minority recruits

"I JUST can't believe that after all I've been through with the police personally, they are now looking to me to help them with their recruitment problems. I have been a victim of them on too many a night driving home."

  • BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH

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News
Sat 7 Jul 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1756
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