Some extracts from an article in the Daily Telegraph from July 2008 when Swire was “last executive standing” at Photo-me which had got in financial difficulties. It was eventually sold to Sunday Times Rich List executive Serge Crasnianski and he gets an “advisory allowance” of £3,000 per month for approximately 8 hours work in that period as detailed in this article:
The profile was written after he was “sacked from David Cameron’s shadow cabinet after a brouhaha about Tory policy on museum admission charges” but before he became a Government Minister.
“Life has been something of a pigsty for Photo-Me, best known for its photo booths in shops and train stations. So it’s familiar territory for the MP for East Devon, whose prize possession is a five-year-old show pig called Maud. …
With his ivory shirt, pale blue tie, military bearing and slightly thinning comb-over, the 48-year-old bears many of the hallmarks of an old-school Tory.
Eton-educated and raised in the Oxfordshire village where Cameron now resides, Swire is married to Sasha, novelist and daughter of the former defence secretary Sir John Nott, and is a member of the Swire shipping dynasty. …
As for the Swire empire, he has but “a small number of shares” in one of its subsidiaries. “It’s a huge international conglomerate controlled by my relations, and my relations with them are extremely cordial but they are genetic rather than financial… unfortunately,” he chuckles, charmingly self-mocking.
“It was useful shorthand for people to assume that I am, first, a multi-billionaire and, second, an Eton crony and deputy of David, but none is based on fact – alas, in both cases.” [Cameron gave him one of the croney knighthoods when he jumped the Brexit ship last year]
… Swire, who joined as a non-executive director in 2005 – before taking the interim chairmanship in April and, more recently, the permanent chairmanship – bought 25,000 shares at 85p in 2006. They closed at 12p last week. Whoops.
… So what of the £4.3m the company splurged on advisers’ fees relating to the failed sale of the vending division? “It is extraordinary, extraordinary,” says Swire. “And perhaps the only guy who’s more unhappy about that than me is Thierry Barel, who just cannot understand it.”
Erm, hold on, did Swire not know at the time how much money was being spent? “Well, I wasn’t the chairman.” Yes, but he was on the board. “Well, yeah, we did know it was happening but what could we do at the time? We had to produce the data and when you start having accountants producing that kind of data, lawyers and things like that, we all know the fees ratchet up.”
… Swire’s desire is to hand over the chairmanship before too long to re-enter top-level politics and realise an ambition of over 30 years. “Nothing is forever in life. I am up for re-election as a non-executive in October and it may be that shareholders don’t want me to continue at that point, or it may that I don’t want to continue at that point.”
Then he lurches into political fantasy [except unfortunately for us, ir wasn’t]. “I think I will want to stay, but clearly if the Prime Minister goes down badly in the Glasgow East by-election this week and is forced to resign and an incoming Labour PM calls a snap election, it’s not impossible that by the autumn that we might be in a General Election, in which case if the Conservative Government were to win, maybe I would be asked to step up to some plate in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, in which case outside interests have to go anyway. [You can see here how far in advance Tory plans are made]
“My guess is the maximum I will be at the company is two years – that’s assuming that I am offered a job by David.” [The bloke he says above isn’t a croney] Then he pauses and reflects. “So maybe I’ll be at the company forever!” [Indeed, that is what seems to have happened]
Despite his winning self-deprecation, Swire looks well-qualified for government, especially a role relating to the arts, although his old job is occupied by Jeremy Hunt. [Oh heck!]
“I think it’s very difficult for me to aspire to that job when it is being occupied by a very capable colleague, so I don’t think I am going to get it,” he says, before adding, with political savvy: “There are huge issues facing that department, though.
… Like Dave, he even had a spell in financial PR. He also boasts expertise in Middle Eastern politics [yes, seems he has been interested for a long time] and has a track history of fund-raising for charity [whilst making some very bad taste jokes about the poor]. Then there’s Maud the show pig.
If Swire and his team can lift Photo-Me out of the muck, it would surely be a comeback to rival the Tory renaissance.” [And, perhaps not surprisingly, it was!]