I WONDER what Camden’s finance chief Councillor Theo Blackwell will think when he reads the front page tomorrow’s Independent. It’s all about Lord Fink and questions whether he broke rules over a proposed dinner at the House of Lords for paying American Express customers. The splash headline is: Cameron’s fund-raiser caught in £6,000 deal for House of Lords dinner.
Theo and Lord Fink, you see, have history. They had a run-in last January when Lord Fink gave a pretty grim warning about how the sale of the Town Hall annexe in King’s Cross would end in predictable tears. Lord Fink had been one of the buyers of the lovely apartments in the refurbished St Pancras Chambers opposite the council’s headquarters and had met with officials ahead of the decision to market the annexe to discuss his concerns.
As a super sucessful businessman who is described in tomorrow’s Indy as the ‘Godfather of the hedge fund industry’, there was more than a little surprise when Theo bluntly responded by calling Lord Fink: ‘Frankly silly’.
His broadside in full: “I do think the points made by the experienced, ennobled Lord Fink do convey a slight misunderstanding – or more than a slight misunderstanding of the council’s position. For example, it is not the primary purpose of this project to reduce the carbon footprint of the council. So the comment that the construction build will create a certain amount of CO2, more than it will save, is frankly silly. If you logically extended that argumt, you wouldn’t be building anything in London and I don’t think that’s really a credible position for someone who’s a hedge fund holder to hold if they want to be consistent in themselves.”
For his part, Lord Fink had warned that the development deal for the annexe was fraught with financial risk and it would be more effective just to fix the faulty elevators.
“The annexe building as it is is quirky. It might not be what you would build if you started from scratch there, but it would be financially better for the council, when they are trying to make savings, to just fix the lifts,” he advised.
We’ll wait and see who is proved right on that particular score.