‘Every Sunday’, the inaugural Sunday Business editorial trumpeted, ‘this
broadsheet will report, reflect, analyse and speculate on the issues of
the week gone by and the week ahead.’ It was doubtless modesty which
prevented it from mentioning its prowess in scoops from the year gone
For on page two, it reveals that Dick Newby, Matrix Communications
director and ‘deputy chairman’ of the LibDems, is acting as a consultant
to Railtrack. The paper declares that this revelation will be ‘a huge
embarrassment to the LibDems who are implacably opposed to the
privatisation of Railtrack’.
Strangely enough, it didn’t seem that embarrassing to the party 12
months ago this week when PR Week first broke the news of Railtrack
hiring Matrix (PR Week, 28 April 1995).
In any case, it’s Dewe Rogerson which is handling the Railtrack
privatisation, not Matrix, which is providing general public affairs
advice. And Newby is not ‘deputy chairman of the party’, but deputy
chairman of general election external communications.
Nevertheless, Sunday Business journalist Adam Sherwin defended his story
with gusto when I called. He insisted it was still significant that
Newby was working for Railtrack, even if not directly on the
privatisation, and that, as the story was new to him, ‘it obviously
couldn’t have had much currency last year’.
Sources close to Newby say he is understandably baffled by the whole