The Evil Diaries: High Jinks north of the border

4 mins. to read

Evil discusses the City Link Collapse and Sports Direct…

More Dacre-originated guff: As has been observed here before, Brummer in his City column executes the Dacre policy which is to promote garbage, even where it is palpable garbage, provided it accords with ill-formed prejudices of the Daily Mail’s readers.

The Daily Mail is at it again yesterday with reportage of the City Link collapse and the claim that the Insolvency Act 1986 should be updated.

My own starting point is that all changes in legislation should be resisted if at all possible since new legislation entails a cost to society whilst people adjust to it. Here, in the matter of City Link etc., no change at all is even remotely necessary.

Taking Brummer’s editorial, it is headlined “Moral failings at City Link”. Well, I never! And what would these moral failings be?

The first “moral failing” adumbrated by Brummer is that City Link used self-employed workers who, not on the staff, allowed City Link to avoid the implementation of employment law (or, as many see it, the imposition of the creation of unemployment laws) and, no doubt, the absurd tax regime which so clearly favours a business turning to self-employed workers. Given that City Link’s management had in law an obligation to avoid unnecessary cost it would have been both a legal and a moral failing on the part of City Link management not to avoid the employed status of these workers.

Believe it or not, Brummer points out that, technically, drivers were categorised as working for themselves where in fact on enquiry (as orchestrated by Brummer) they were working as employees of City Link. We know this, says Brummer, since their vans had the City Link logo daubed (Brummer’s word) on their side. These vans were directed by City Link. Golly, that is odd! A customer actually wanted to direct how the vans he was paying for should be deployed! Will this criminality ever stop?

Better Capital, a private equity specialist fronted by John Moulton, lost £20m. Apparently, according to the Daily Mail, this means that they got away Scot Free. And it also means that John Moulton should not have been allowed to comment on the Budget. This last twist of the Daily Mail’s development of a little daily hate seems (God knows what really goes through the Daily Mail’s addled minds) based on the proposition that the BBC should not even consider a programme on the Budget, which covered tax avoidance, by referring to those who know something of the subject. I remind readers that tax avoidance is entirely legal and quite probably moral.

Finally, the law provides that where it is necessary to make 100 or more staff redundant City Link should have given 45 days notice, presumably to those affected and in advance of their being made redundant, for consultation. What is here proposed is that at the very moment when contracts should be run off as efficiently as possible to minimise terminal losses and so improve crditors’ prospects, such run off should be deeply damaged by letting the cat out of the bag. It is possibly the case that City Link management face questioning on the failure to consult and, indeed, be criticised. But it cannot be argued that the morality of the conduct of the managers is in question.


Ilika (IKA) seem to be succeeding with the development and commercialising of their batteries. As a result, the shares are up 7p at 79.5p this morning. Unfortunately I have no idea as to what is going on so I really can’t hot you. But it feels better than when the share price is going down.


However, I am much clearer about the direction of Mitie (MTO). This is insanely overvalued at its current 296p. I sold short at 300p.


Fortunately, Saudi elected to bomb Yemen overnight such that I made a quick £20,000 on my long position in gold and Euro versus dollar. Tough on yer men but bully for ours.


High Jinks north of the border: I had not previously noticed that there is a parliamentary committee, entitled Scottish Affairs Committee. However, and being realistic, there is a lot of adultery up there and somebody had formally to consider the incidence – or so I suppose.

Yesterday the Committee strayed off its declared area of influence and considered the conduct of Sports Direct (SPD) which is of course run by the formidable Mike Ashley. Sports Direct, the cads, had managed to pick up all the worthwhile assets of USC, which had gone into administration, in a pre-pack. If (which I very much doubt) anybody is to be criticised it is surely the administrator who, if The Mashley behaved in an intensely commercially effective manner on his shareholders’ behalf – for which activity he is exclusively retained and paid – was obviously so blown over by this force of nature that he omitted to look for any other buyer where in fact he could have. But please note that The Mashley cannot be criticised.

It is here that the Scottish Affairs Committee kicked in to demonstrate its special blend of silliness. Unable to discern anything illegal in The Mashley’s conduct, the Committee allowed Sports Direct to be described as having behaved in an immoral manner. As has been noted in this column before, generally, whenever an MP considers morality, he/she gets into a muddle. On the other hand, we voted him or her into power: we have only ourselves to blame.

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