Can We Help?
The City of London is by far the most powerful and influential repository of professional expertise in the world. Its comprehensive skills are open to anyone without an obvious UK criminal record who possesses the Golden Keys to the City: the money to pay the fees.
Influence, political status, class – none of them matter a dot, as long as the ackers are there. Footballers like Lineker or Beckham, politicians of all hues, oligarchs, sheiks, lottery winners, Indian honeymooners with a South African tale to tell, English rock musicians.
The politically powerful, those shadowy creatures so beloved of aged, trad-jazz loving, Professor Teddy Cardigan and his ilk,rarely have a chance against mobilised professional expertise at this level. The US government, for example, faced with a relatively cheap but determined rescue package on behalf of the data hacker McKinnon, whose extradition they had demanded, was effortlessly seen off.
The controversial Gina Miller, who knows her way round the City as well as a few other places, had no trouble at all hiring its resources to pin the entire British government like a specimen butterfly when it came to Brexit, so far without having been assassinated by Those Behind Everything.
The great Brinks-Matt bullion robbers, as scary a bunch as you’ll ever have the misfortune to meet, included a number who walked free from the grip of the criminal justice system. A decade later the City, on behalf of the insurance companies based there and using their own investigators and informers, was still tying the “cleared” ones up in legal knots and gradually getting hold of their assets, without fuss or publicity, via the civil courts.
Having and Holding
The world being what it is, if you are doing well in Kazakhstan, South Sudan or Moscow you get what you want with muscle and, ultimately, let’s face it, sudden death. But if you want to play in the wider world, or get out before you're taken out, then that will usually mean playing by London rules, and London rules are all about protecting yourself and your property against risk, not with bullets but with the superior and much more reliable force of law, national and international, expertly handled.
Whether it’s to stop the state grabbing your inheritance or taxing your lottery win too heavily, arbitrating between exiled Russian thieves, defending your innocence, getting what's left of your musicians' royalties back from crooked managers, maintaining your reputation, insuring your tennis arm or your breasts, enforcing your contracts, or making your divorce settlements work, the City – actually twin cities with finance and accountancy in the City itself, entrepreneurship and media production based in Westminster and the law situated comfortably on the border between them – does it better than anywhere else.
Others – in the Hague or Geneva – can carry on making the world a better place but London, much to the disgust of righteous Europeans, lets other people handle that sort of thing and gets on with making real money from its immense, concentrated – and often foreign-born – brain power on behalf of those with the Keys. And that is why baffled Portuguese, even today, search for hidden explanations for the extraordinary and incomprehensible whirlwind that engulfed them when they tried to investigate a couple of common little doctors about the disappearance of their child.
For the media uproar that Gerry McCann, with the instincts of a gambler, had unleashed on May 4 2007 made them multi-millionaires within a few weeks, courtesy of public support and public donations, a narrative that even the most fanciful of film plots would have struggled to get away with. That presented this unlikely pair with the Golden Keys to the City – and, as always, the City was ready to help.
Next: Part Two, Coping with grief, you know.