I was as shocked as anyone by what’s gone on at Halliwells, but there’s been a lot of rot talked.
I’m going to stick my neck out and speak up for the lads over there. First, so they did this hooky property deal where the partners all creamed a few mill each. SO WHAT? That’s capitalism kids. Get real. As I was saying to one of the ex-partners on his yacht in Puerto Banus the other week – who wouldn’t honestly have done the same thing given the choice? I know I have and if it wasn’t for the cowardice of the banks, then I would again.
Second, this lad Ian Austin was meant to have made a speech in Prague – great city for a lads trip by the way - saying the firm was going places. Jeez, if every bit of tub thumping rhetoric I’ve spewed out over the years was quoted back at me there’d me more rubbish talked about me on the internet than Steven Gerrard.
I don’t know this Austin myself – Halliwells will always be Clive Garston and Alec “Craigy” Craig to me – and the Earl of Lancashire Chris Eddlestone. This was a firm with a bit of breeding. And surely it’s no coincidence that the less you’ve seen of these lads in the office in Manchester, the more you hear of the problems piling up.
And they’ll always be Halliwell Landau as well – a much more sinister name that struck fear into the hearts of some loser you were suing. I’ll never forget the look on the face of some high street brief from Bramhall when the Halliwell Landau mob slammed their briefcases on the table and screamed – and screamed “we’re the Sweeney and we ain’t had our dinner.”
Next, the offices. Fair enough, they were a bit over the top and I’d have turned that ground floor reception into a branch of Subway, or Branagans, or Panacea, or something. And I’d have put them foxy receptionists on show at the front, not hidden upstairs. It’s the little touches, see.
The thing is, I know I speak for a lot of other successful stand-up lads who’ve done well out of the firm when I mention all of this. There are quality operators out there who have been served well over the years. Good lads like Mark Guterman, Mike Connett, Mike Ashley and last, but by no means least, Chris Ronnie.