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Friday, 19 November 2010

Tea with Lionel Barber of the Financial Times

    A Formula One Grand Prix is always about more than mere motor racing, even when there is a championship at stake. Among the royalty, celebrities, models and Bollywood stars who washed up on these shores last weekend was the editor of the Financial Times.

    Editors of the pink paper are generally serious and donnish, about as likely to pitch up at an F1 race as streak through Threadneedle Street in the heart of the City of London. But Lionel Barber is a rather different figure. Appointed five years ago to the top position at the relatively advanced age of 50, he has rejuvenated the paper, bringing in a clutch of high-profile signings including Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama, and even finds time to write profiles and columns. An editor writing? Whatever next?

    Mr Barber's latest appearance in the Weekend edition was a description of an encounter with Imran Khan, the former Pakistan cricket captain and now seasoned politician. Other journalists might have engaged in a lengthy debate about how to end feudalism in Pakistan or whether the country is a failed state. Instead, Mr Barber borrowed a bat and pads from his Islamabad correspondent and faced an over of slow bowling from the great man, and ran the piece complete with a series of pictures.