Flying right

AS the long Easter weekend approaches, the Court of Session car park was eerily quiet without the usual traffic of those working in the courts. The Signet Library and Colonnades, in contrast, were busier than ever, and elsewhere in the Royal Mile, the detritus of a Hollywood blockbuster was detectable in the form of burned out lorries dotting the cobbled streets.

IN the business world, some well-known names were having a rather trying week. Leading the way in how-not-to-do-PR was undoubtedly United Airlines and its CEO Oscar Munoz. For a corporation that should have already been on high alert following the controversy when it refused to allow two 10 year old girls to board a flight because they were wearing leggings, this was a further spectacular public relations disaster. Following the forced ejection of a passenger due to an overbooked flight, Munoz first response was to praise UA staff with an inadvertently appropriate piece of corporate-speak: “I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right”. “Flying right” in this case, as mobile phone footage of the incident made graphically clear, involved giving the passenger a split lip, and dragging him along the aisle to “re-accomodate” him back to the airport. Eventually, by Wednesday this week, Munoz was touring US television stations to issue a grovelling apology, with a strong sense of UA’s lawyers sitting off camera close by.

AN equally legendary bit of “leadership” from Barclay’s boss Jes Staley, whose actions in the last few months led the FT this week to call him “a very bad chief executive”. For a bank whose legal tangles are second-to-none in the city, the decision to bring in US law enforcement to investigate one of their own whistleblowers was, well, unfortunate to say the least – as was the fact that said whistleblowing concerned the appointment of one of Staley’s former colleague and friend to a job at Barclays. However, the board decided that what had all the appearance of a concerted witch-hunt by the CEO was in fact “an honest mistake”. Corporate lawyers take note… As the FT concludes, support for whistleblowers amounts to very little “and that is likely to be much worse for investors in the long run”.

MEANWHILE, in America, Donald Trump finally succeeded in appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, leaving behind a legacy that will last far longer that his Presidency - however long that might be. In a delicious irony, this week also saw CNN report that US courts can expect a great deal of litigation from bitter Trump voters living along the southern border. These citizens have just begun to realise the government will be seeking compulsory purchase orders to buy their houses, farms, ranches and even (in at least one case) golf courses in order to build – yes, you guessed it – the Big Beautiful Wall.

WALTER and Writer will be away next week for a rejuvenating Easter break in the Scottish countryside, so Writer’s Week will return on 28 April. Fortunately for everyone, no air travel will be involved, as any airline attempting to forcibly “re-accomodate” a Scottish terrier would surely live to regret it.

Happy Easter!

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.