It’s much harder to be a crook than it used to be, says Robert Maxwell’s biographer Tom Bower

IT’s much harder to be a crooked businessman than it used to be, according to Tom Bower, the journalist who is best known for uncovering corporate scandals.

Tom Bower. 6th December 2019. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Mr Bower, who wrote a highly critical unauthorised biography of Robert Maxwell, said he believed the ethics and integrity of the business world had improved in recent years.

Mr Bower, who was the keynote speaker at The Yorkshire Business Awards organised by Variety, the Children’s Charity, said regulators are far more aware of dishonesty.

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Speaking before the awards, he told The Yorkshire Post: “The people I’ve covered in the past like Robert Maxwell.. those people would find it much harder now to become multi- billionaires and great power moguls.”

Tom Bower. 6th December 2019. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

It’s much easier to discover a dishonest man now that it was before. So that’s changed a lot, but on the other hand they are not the sort of giants that they were.”

Mr Bower also confirmed he had started work on a biography of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

Mr Bower said: “I quickly discovered he’s quite a complicated person.

“One of the old girlfriends said, “ You will find it very difficult to discover the truth, because Alexander Boris Johnson is really three people.

“There’s Alexander, there’s Al and there’s Boris. Often he doesn’t know himself which one he is. So it isn’t easy. I’m still doing the research now.”

Mr Bower is a former reporter for the BBC’s Panorama and his other work has included biographies of Gordon Brown, Richard Branson and the Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn,

The Yorkshire Post is the media partner for the awards lunch, which this year raised at least £120,000 for Variety, the children’s charity.

Awards were presented by the compere Louise Minchin, the BBC Breakfast presenter to leading figures from Yorkshire’s business community.

The business leader of the year award went to Frank Hester of Leeds-based TPP, the healthcare technology company.

The board of the year trophy went to Croda, the speciality chemicals firm, which is based in East Yorkshire. The SME of the year was Sewtec, the industrial automation specialist and the standout small business award was presented to rradar, the specialist litigation and commercial law firm.

There will be further coverage of the awards in our Business Tuesday supplement.

Over the last 70 years, Variety, the children’s charity has supported around 800,000 children.

Jason Robinson, the Leeds-born sportsman who was a member of the victorious England team at the 2003 Rugby Union world cup in Australia, received the Bobbie Caplin OBE Yorkshire Legend award for his work to support the charity. Also honoured was Tony Foulds, who has spent decades working tirelessly to commemorate the courage of airmen of a B-17 Flying Fortress, which he witnessed crash and explode in Sheffield during the Second World War. He spends up to six days a week tending the crew’s memorial.

The awards were held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.