The Insider sharpens his fashion skulls, tracks a small-scale burglar and gets fast-track information on World Cup form

Proud Scot Eric Galbraith has had no reason to look forward to the World Cup. That is, until the Biba chief executive put his hand into the Biba staffers’ World Cup sweepstake and pulled out – yep, you guessed it – England. I hear there was much amusement down at Biba HQ when the draw was made and his hopes of drawing all Scots’ second-favourite team – Argentina – were dashed. Galbraith is now preparing to swap the tartan for the three lions over the next four weeks as he roars on Capello’s men to glory. Although speculation that Galbraith has agreed to wear full England strip and buy the first round of drinks if we win the World Cup is as yet unconfirmed …

A fashion sideline to die for

Have you heard about Lyndon Wood’s little side business? The Moorhouse chairman has invested in an online men’s fashion business. Visit to view the full package. But be warned: it might be a little too trendy for some of you. Delights include a Christian Audigier gold watch with a large skull on the face, brightly coloured graffiti-patterned laptop cases and messenger bags by Ed Hardy – with more skull designs – and Ed Hardy shoes featuring, yes, you’ve guessed it, skulls. Lyndon, you are clearly an entrepreneur with great business skulls.

Everyone’s for tennis

Over to Roland-Garros, home of the French Open, to watch Rafael Nadal vanquish fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. Watching the match, I was reminded of last year’s championship, when AXA chief executive Philippe Maso sat watching for the whole afternoon and – to the amusement of his colleagues – was captured by TV cameras looking isolated while many fans cleared off for a drink. But this year’s match kept the crowd reliably glued to their seats, so he got by with a little help from his compatriots.

Pint-sized pilferer nabs the porcelain

An “unusually small man” is the scourge of Ecclesiastical, I'm told. The little burglar squeezes his way through narrow openings in stately homes and then raids the premises. He has a penchant for antique porcelain, often worth thousands of pounds, and curtains and cushions are swiped to use as packaging for the fragile porcelain. Well, as I'm frequently told in this great industry of ours, it's a small world. Now I know it for sure.

Our man at the World Cup

As I reported recently, Broker Network chairman Grant Ellis is the envy of everyone in insurance. Stationed out in Cape Town, he’ll get to watch five World Cup group games, including England’s match against Algeria, and also has tickets for the quarter finals and semi finals. He also told me that he and some pals will be playing a game of footy against some locals. And if he gets some spare time, Grant has also agreed to write some blogs for the Insurance Times website on his World Cup experience. Well worth keeping an eye out for …

Pleural plaque pay-outs ‘robbery’

I’ve heard some support for the insurance industry from a decidedly unexpected quarter north of the border. Writing in The Scotsman, former Tony Blair right-hand man John McTernan said that Labour had what he described as an “ultimately irrational” belief that sufferers of the asbestos-related illness pleural plaque were entitled to government compensation. But he reserved his harshest criticism for the Scottish parliament for “extraordinarily legislating that a condition that causes no harm should be compensated as if it caused harm”. “In a more honest world, that is called robbery,” McTernan tartly concluded. One wonders if Scotland’s court of appeal will agree when it adjudicates next month on whether the parliament had grounds to pass the offending legislation. IT