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FitzGerald turns to spookery

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FitzGerald turns to spookery

By Emiliya Mychasuk and Emiko Terazono

Published: September 23 2008 03:00 | Last updated: September 23 2008 03:00

Tentacles of the spy group Hakluyt have spread as Thomson Reuters co-deputy chairman Niall FitzGerald takes over as chairman from Sir William “Willie” Purves , the former HSBC chairman who steps aside after nine years.

The Mayfair-based company, with a former Gurkha acting as sentinel on the door, has built its “focused business intelligence” under Sir William and chief Keith Craig , a former MI6 man who joined in 2000. It was founded in 1995 by two former MI6 officers, loftily naming it after the Welsh author and explorer. They have since departed.

Other non-executive directors on the small main board are Mark Getty , of the US oil family fame, golf-playing Robert Webb QC, the British Airways general counsel who also sits on the board of the London Stock Exchange, as well as former UN under-secretary general Sir Kieran Prendergast .

Under Mr FitzGerald, the group, whose clients have been revealed over the years as including the likes of defence group EADS, BP and Shell, will try to expand its international reach. It has recently added some foreign affairs experts to its sprawling advisory board chaired by Sir Ralph Robins , former chairman of Rolls-Royce. The newer members include former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer – who will be forever known in his country for wearing fishnet stockings after he let himself be photographed in them years ago – and Sir David Manning , a former foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair and ambassador to Washington. They join former British Airways boss Sir Rod Eddington , former Hochtief chiefHans-Peter Keitel , and one-time presidential candidate Bill Bradley . Previous advisory board members have included retired bigwigs such as former BP chairman Peter Cazalet and and Vodafone chief Sir Christopher Gent .

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