As Minews has pointed out, August is the silly season for news in the northern hemisphere as most of the movers and shakers are off to the beaches or, since last week, shooting grouse on the moors of the north of England and Scotland. The news that the Department of Trade and Industry has decided to charge the first person with insider trading in connection with shares tipped in the Daily Mirror financial columns is therefore of interest as the accused runs a financial PR company which advises a number of junior mining companies listed on AIM.
Step forward Tim Blackstone, an erstwhile scholar at Rugby School where the great game with an oblong ball was invented. Indeed the Media Diary of the Observer newspaper claimed a few months back that he had been invited back to the old school to give a lecture on the fine art of financial public relations. One wonders if any of his audience had brushed up on his past , as described in the said Media Diary, as it included a stint as a porn star and this would have been of much more interest to his listeners than a homile about spin doctoring.
The Sunday papers had a field day with descriptions of this interlude in his career which is said to have been brought about by his lack of luck at the card table with people who had considerably more cash than him. According to those who seem to know he starred in three films, Titus Erectus, I Am Not Feeling Myself Tonight, and The Man With The Golden Arse. He acted in these films, and possibly more, under the pseudonym Dick Bangwell and when he was not performing he was said also to have written a few porn novels. Doubtless this combination kept the wolf from the door and gave him some useful practice in writing as he then moved on to being a financial journalist at the Evening Standard and the Sunday Times.
As far as can be ascertained he started his financial PR operations as a one man band two or three years ago and named it Blackstone Business Communications, doubtless in the hope that simple folk might vest its output with the same importance as that rather larger organisation with the same initials, the British Broadcasting Corporation. The trouble was that the technical expertise of the smaller bbc was not up to that of the larger and it was only in recent months that poor old Tim got round to sending out press releases by e-mail rather than fax.
The great mainstay of his business was the Matt Sutcliffe/Denny Chambers team which left stockbrokers Williams de Broe last year to join what is now called Evolution Beeson Gregory when riding high after a series of successes with Aquarius Platinum, Murchison United and European Diamonds. Since joining the new firm they have also acted in the AIM listings of Dwyka Diamonds and St Barbara Mines. The strange thing was that bbc became financial pr consultant to all these companies without any of its competitors getting a look in, or so they say. As far as can be ascertained it was Denny Chambers who was Blackstone’s patron and Denny himself had a pretty interesting career before catching hold of Sutcliffe’s shirt tails.
Apparently Mr Blackstone’s problems go back to 1999 and focus on the share performance of a company called Murray Financial. The interesting thing is that the DTI is giving this case a high profile as all the Sunday papers were well briefed and were door stepping the offices of bbc when Blackstone arrived there “on a rickety motor scooter “ after being summoned to appear at Marylebone magistrates court to face four charges of contravening Section 52 of the 1993 Criminal Justice Act which forbids insider dealing. The high profile may be something to do with the fact that his sister is Tony Blair’s minister for the arts and revels in the title of Baroness Blackstone given for her services to the Labour Party.
Fortunately for the mining companies involved with bbc – which also include Golden Prospect and Kenmare – Alan Piper and Roger Pope who joined Blackstone in the last year or so are taking the business on under the new banner of First City Financial. Piper has a masters degree in geophysics so should know a fair bit about mining companies, probably more than poor old Tim.