Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Neil Collins, ex-Reuters journalist extraordinaire, sends me an email!

Yeah, he sent me an email late last night because he was just overwhelmed by this great desire to explain himself to the world's foremost financial shaman. It's what I would do. I don't blame him. I mean, if I were a mere journalist who had got himself into a spot of bother (and not a godlike shaman and blogger blessed with genius) I would also want to explain myself to someone I considered my superior, my Master. I get a lot of emails like this. From insider traders, sacked bankers, and hacks down on their luck. Here it is (with my comments in square brackets, just in case he reads this post) -

Dear Michael

Thank you for being a friend. I know we've never met, but there is a connection between us. You feel it too, don't you? [Not really, Neil, mate.]

I am sorry that neither you nor Big Herb took the opportunity to discuss this affair with me on the astral plane, when it was first reported that I had broken Reuters' internal rules. [Yesterday morning, Neil. Give us a chance.] I know we'll meet one day. [We'll see.]

In the light of your decision yesterday evening [What decision? Are you cracking up, boy?], I feel it worth saying now what I would have done had I been given the chance. [Fair enough.]

I have a basic pension fund from my time at the Daily Telegraph [Good for you! I don't give a shit.], but I manage all my other assets, including my family's ISA and SIPP portfolios. As you have seen from the comprehensive contract notes and dealing sheets I have provided for you, I deal infrequently. [I didn't get no notes or sheets. Are you getting me mixed up with someone else?]

I saw an opportunity in BP, and added to my SIPP holding as the price fell. I failed to connect my comments for Reuters - among millions of words written on BP at the time [What if it were hundreds?] - with the purchases. I had read Reuters' rules about share dealing on joining the company in March 2009, but my recollection was incorrect. [Oh yeah. Whatever.] I did recall the phrase "The test is whether the editorial activity might continue to have an impact on the securities." [Yeah. Sticks in the mind, don't it? Like - 'A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse'.] This is surely the point of the rules.

I made no attempt to conceal my activities from my colleagues. When during a conversation, Chris Hughes [Who?] suggested I might be in breach, I immediately (4 October) emailed David Schlesinger [Who?] with the facts. I did this because I understood from Chris that he (David) was likely to be the decision-maker in the affair.

I also realised that I had failed to disclose my interest in shares that I had written about, although I had not traded them in Reuters' 30-day "exclusion zone".

Following our formal discussion on 13 October [You're a fantasist!], I reviewed the portfolio dealings and discovered that I had sold the substantial holding of Marks & Spencer from my late father's estate five days after commenting on the company's results. As with BP, I view this as a serious, but technical breach of the rules. At no stage do I consider that I have abused my position at Reuters.

On discovering the second breach, I felt I had no choice but to offer my resignation, which you accepted on 15 October. [Nothing to do with me, mate.]

I am pleased that my comments are now to be revised to carry the appropriate disclaimers. I am saddened and embarrassed by my breaches of the rules and hope that you will shortly be able to draw a line under this unfortunate episode. [For fuck's sake, Neil, why are you beating yourself up like this?! It's not the crime of the century.]

Best wishes


I haven't replied to his email yet. I guess I will, when I get a moment. Neil Collins reminds me of Kevin Costner at the end of the greatest film ever made, Fandango. What is going to happen to him? Where is he headed?

I have a feeling he's going to spend some time in the desert of our love. Best thing for him. He'll be all right.