The Spectator

Letters | 17 October 2009

Spectator readers respond to recent articles

No Sants-culotte

Sir: I was disheartened but, in these days of sloppy journalism, hardly surprised to read Charles Moore’s snide remarks (The Spectator’s Notes, 10 October) about Hector Sants’s apparently palatial house in Oxford. I have no particular opinion as to whether, as chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, Mr Sants should be paid more, the same or less than the Prime Minister. What I do know is that prior to joining the FSA, Sants had spent many years as a very senior, successful and presumably handsomely rewarded executive at Credit Suisse. Before that he held a similar position at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, which was acquired by Credit Suisse on very generous terms in 2000, and he would also have benefited from this. It is fair to surmise therefore that the bulk of Mr Sants’s wealth derives not from his current (albeit well remunerated) employment, but from his previous career in banking.

I fail to understand why Mr Moore might take such exception to independently wealthy individuals entering public service. I would also have thought it desirable that regulatory bodies be staffed in part by successful practitioners with relevant experience rather than by career civil servants, academics or retired media hacks. Would it be such a bad idea that someone should build a career and acquire wealth in the private sector before entering public service? I realise, of course, that in the world inhabited by politicians and senior civil servants it tends to work the other way round. They build up their contacts first, then afterwards leverage their public sector experience by way of book and speaking deals, peerages, consultancies and directorships, which keep them occupied and supplement their meagre pensions.

Glenn Wellman

Getting the wind up

Sir: I find it amazing that in his review of Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic (Arts, 10 October) Lloyd Evans omitted three important facts, namely that this play is a dramatisation of the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial, Kevin Spacey was playing the famous lawyer Clarence Darrow, and that Spacey starred in a biopic entitled Darrow a few years ago and knows his subject, hence his ‘mesmerising form’.

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