Cameron collects City stalwarts for his business panel

Marion Dakers
BOSSES at several of the country’s largest companies are to join David Cameron’s panel of business gurus, it emerged yesterday.

A source close to Centrica said its chief executive Sam Laidlaw would take a role on the committee, while Sky News named Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, 3i Group chief Michael Queen and BAE Systems chairman Dick Olver as other advisers to the coalition on business matters.

Also named were GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty and Diageo boss Paul Walsh, who both advised Gordon Brown during his time at Downing Street.

Walsh told reporters last week that he would consider moving Diageo out of the UK if the government changes corporation tax rules.

“It doesn’t matter where we’re based, and governments can forget that,” said Walsh. “So if they start to think they can be cute on tax, they’ll force us to consider other options.”

Reports earlier this month named other members including Sir Martin Sorrell, who moved his publishing giant WPP to Ireland in 2008 for tax reasons.

The group of up to 20 business heads is expected to have its first meeting in November.

A Downing Street spokesperson declined to confirm the appointments, and told City A.M. yesterday: “If there is any announcement to be made, we will do so in due course.”

Spokespeople at all the companies declined to comment.