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The corridors of power...

I must confess to some surprise at the recent ousting of Sir Clive Thompson, otherwise known as 'Mr 20 Per Cent'.

I’d assumed he’d been canned years ago, which does make you wonder what he’s been doing with his time. Perhaps less surprising was his indignation at being turfed out by his fellow directors at Rentokil.

Others will know what he’s going through. Greg Hutchings was ejected from Tomkins amid much mudslinging about jets and flats paid for by the company. It turns out that none of it was true – ‘Greg wuz framed’ – but there’s not much he can do about it now.

Readers may recall the fate of George Walker, the eighties property and leisure magnate. He was forced out as chairman of Brent Walker in 1991 under pressure from the banks, who threatened to hold the directors personally liable for hundreds of millions of pounds. They caved in and voted him out of office.

Walker survived being put on trial by the Serious Fraud Office and ended up selling cigarettes and betting services to the Russians.

He invited me on a junket – er, press trip – to Moscow in the late 1990s, where the itinerary included a dodgy cabaret featuring some large snakes.

But that’s a story for another day.

Sir Phil Watts at Shell, Piers Morgan at the Mirror … it’s been a bumper year for executive oustings. You can almost hear the sound of all those lawyers rubbing their hands with glee. Morgan and Sir Phil are each negotiating a rumoured £1m pay-off, which would go some way towards easing the pain.

But as Sir Clive will tell you, it’s the blow to one’s pride that hurts more than anything. What will the neighbours think?

  • Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times

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