MULTI-MILLIONAIRE Carl Cushnie was one of the glittering stars in New Labour's constellation of businessmen. He appeared in New Labour's party political broadcast for the European elections last year after a personal appeal from Tony Blair. Now the financial company he headed, British - based Versailles, has gone into receivership and is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. It increased its apparent turnover by setting up paper companies and swapping loans between them. An accountant told the Financial Times last week that money laundering was a possibility. He said, 'Money was going out of these accounts via one of the client accounts. 'It was repeatedly going into bank accounts under the control of or related to the finance director, Fred Clough.' Mr Clough's whereabouts are unknown. The Versailles company is connected with accounts in notorious money laundering states such as the Cayman Islands and Virgin Islands. The Dubelle Foundation of Liechtenstein is also implicated in the fraud inquiry. It is headed by Leslie Cairns, a convicted fraudster who has used a false identity in the past. No one yet knows whether Carl Cushnie was the architect of his company's fraud. We do know he made £29 million by selling his stake in Versailles in November without revealing that there was a Department of Trade and Industry investigation into its activities.
THE chief executive of Yorkshire Water, Graham Hall, is axing 350 jobs at the company. Perhaps the reduced administrative burden will allow him to spend more time on his other job. He is also chairman of Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency appointed by the government, whose prime function is job creation in Yorkshire.
Do try harder
TEACHERS HAD to take down 48,000 education department posters promoting literacy because they featured two spelling mistakes. The posters were sent out for primary school noticeboards but officials failed to spot the gaffes, which included spelling the word 'vocabulary' as 'vocabluary'. A Department for Education and Employment spokesman blamed the spelling mistakes on proofreaders.
HOMELESS people forced the closure of the Christian Dior boutique in Paris in protest against designer John Galliano recently. Mega - rich Galliano was launching his new brand of 'homeless chic'. Galliano said seeing homeless people sleeping in the streets inspired his haute couture collection. Some of the jackets in the collection are priced at nearly £2,000.
- A POLICE officer pulled over the driver of a Nissan car in Lewisham, south London, last month. He checked his documents, tyres and tax disc. All were in order. But then the eagle - eyed copper noticed that the keys which had been taken out of the ignition were from a Ford. The officer contacted base to run a check on the keys. The station radioed back. The keys belonged to the Panda car the officer was driving.
- PC JUSTIN Harris of Radford Road police station, Nottinghamshire, left his car at Sneinton Market car park overnight.
He had a shock the next day when he found that the vehicle was missing. Three searches later, a red faced Harris noticed a familiar wheel rim protruding out of a market stall. Some witty market stallholder had built his stand around the car.
- METROPOLITAN Police officer Steve Frost thought he was onto something when he noticed that the name on the passport of a man brought in for questioning was different from the one he had given when arrested.
'Why have you given another name to us when it says here that your name is Parnell Beater?' said PC Harris. The prisoner's solicitor had to point out that his client had given the right name, but his job was that of a panel beater.
A NEWS of the World hack decided to conduct an experiment to prove that mobile phones fry people's brains. He calculated that his mobile phone generated enough radiation over three months to cook an egg. He strapped an egg to the outside of a company phone, called up the speaking clock and stowed the contraption away. Three months later he bounded into the editor's office and placed the egg on the desk. Hall summoned a photographer to record the amazing scientific event. When the egg was broken, its liquid contents poured over the desk and emitted a horrible smell. The bill for the mobile phone was £8,000.
DO you remember when Margaret Thatcher told the Russian people to 'embrace the market'? A new survey shows the impact free market policies have had on ordinary Russians' lives. Over the last three years the average life expectancy for men has slumped from just over 60 years to 56. Russia's population fell by over three quarters of a million last year, due to poor health and a low birth rate.
NEW LABOUR has come up with a brilliant scheme to deal with the crisis in the health service. It plans to hand hospitals to Tory MPs under the private finance initiative. Long term contracts to run two major hospitals, the Carlisle General and University College Hospital, have recently been awarded to consortiums which both include the Buildings and Property Group. Former agriculture minister and Tory MP for Banbury Tony Baldry is an associate director of the company.
Things they say
'HOW seriously should we take Jorg Haider? The answer is not very. The Freedom Party may yet find itself kicked back into noisy obscurity.'
GUARDIAN editorial under headline 'Haider Is Undesirable, But Not A Big Threat', 5 October 1999
'THE prospect that Mr Haider's Freedom Party, an ugly coalition of neo-Nazis, chauvinists, xenophobes, anti-Semites, petit-bourgeois nationalists and protest voters, will help form the next Austrian government grows ineluctably.'
GUARDIAN editorial under headline 'Haider's Advance Is An Affront To All', 1 February 2000
'WE SET out to prove that hippy idealism is the best way to reinvigorate capitalism. This has paid off handsomely in increased profits, market share and shareholder value.'
BEN COHEN, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's ice cream
'I HAVE this sneaking thought that in about 18 months time Tony Blair will be sitting round the fire at Number 10 with a nice brandy saying, 'Why did we get into a tizzy over all that?' He's not been at all unreasonable.'
'IT WOULD be easy to get the plaudits for today if we had a big increase in the level, but we would probably pay a big price in a few years time.'
STEPHEN BYERS, trade and industry secretary, on why the minimum wage won't increase
'SHE'S not fantastically good at doing what you ask her to do.'
NEW LABOUR OFFICIAL smears Mo Mowlam
'THE illness appears to have affected her. She doesn't appear to be able to do the job in the same way.'
SENIOR GOVERNMENT AIDE on Mo Mowlam