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The corridors of power...

I was more than a little peeved to see Sir Crispin Davis, chief executive of Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publisher, interviewed in The Daily Telegraph. How often had I requested an audience with the great man, only to be told that he never gives interviews.

Sir Crispin is – or perhaps was – part of a clique of boardroom leaders who
go out of their way to avoid prying journalists. Bart Becht, chief executive of
Reckitt Benckiser, is also a member of this dubious club. And you won’t often
read an interview with Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin.

I felt somewhat appeased after reading the Davis interview. Aside from a
reference to his ‘three grown up children’, the article gave no hint of a life
outside the office. Those who have worked closely with Sir Crispin in different
guises say he never talks about his wife or family.

The real story with Sir Crispin is his inclusion in a list of the UK’s most
fascinating families. He and his siblings make up a ‘Band of Brothers’ who make
the rest of us look like miserable under-achievers.

His elder brother, James, is a partner in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Perhaps the most high-profile sibling, Ian, is the first non-American to become
managing director of McKinsey & Co, the frighteningly cerebral management
consultancy. Ian’s twin brother, Sir Nigel, is a High Court judge. He acted for
the Board of Banking Supervision on the Barings inquiry.

You can only pity the Davis sons and daughters. Short of becoming prime
minister, there seems little prospect of ‘outclassing Dad’.

We are unlikely to ever read about the personal Davises, which is perhaps a
blessing in disguise. Some high-achievers really do have nothing to say for
themselves.

Jon Ashworth is a freelance journalist and writer

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