Barry Gardiner MP has demonstrated a crusading zeal for the insurance industry.

The Labour member for Brent North has not only backed Insurance Times' regulation overhaul campaign, but showed an admirable willingness to put principle before party by demanding an inquiry into the failure of the Labour-created Financial Services Authority to prevent the collapse of Independent Insurance.

So it was unfortunate that repeated attempts by Insurance Times to meet Gardiner at his party conference in Brighton this week proved fruitless. He appeared particularly elusive when, having failed to make a pre-arranged meeting, his mobile phone stopped responding.

Backchat hopes party discipline doesn't get in the way of his interest in the industry.