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Ian Hay Davison, who took on the formidable task of reforming Lloyd’s of London - Obituary

He intended to pick out the ‘rotten apples’, he said, only to find that ‘the barrel itself appeared to be infected’ by Telegraph Obituaries 28 September 2022


Ian Hay Davison was my friend, mentor and boss over several years and so I am glad to be able to publish his obituary which reflects very well his dynamism which earned him the well deserved nickname of the ‘Wyatt Earp of Lime Street’.


Here are some extracts from his obituary:


As a partner in the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen in the 1970s, Davison built a track record of fearless exposure of high-profile cases of financial misbehaviour. In December 1982 he was asked by the Governor of the Bank, Gordon Richardson, to apply those skills to Lloyd’s of London, whose tradition of gentlemanly self-regulation had failed to deal effectively with a damaging succession of scandals.


Davison accepted the title of chief executive and deputy chairman of Lloyd’s, and a brief from the Bank to rewrite its rulebook – with some reluctance, he said, but out of personal respect for Richardson. Having arrived with the intention of picking out the “rotten apples”, he swiftly discovered that “The barrel itself… appeared to be infected.”


At the suggestion of his LSE tutor he then applied for a Commonwealth Fund scholarship, which took him to the University of Michigan business school and an internship on Wall Street, before returning in 1959 to join the nascent UK arm of the Chicago-based Arthur Andersen.


He rose to be managing partner in London from 1966 and of the whole UK practice from 1973 to 1983. During his tenure the firm grew from 180 to 2,000 staff.


Tall, fiercely bespectacled and explosively energetic, Davison never ducked a fight: the City columnist Christopher Fildes once observed that “the list of his enemies” was perhaps the greatest accolade of his distinguished career.


As a DTI Inspector in 1975 he uncovered the financial ramifications of the fake suicide and disappearance of the Labour politician John Stonehouse, including a complex web of fraud surrounding a “fringe bank” called London Capital Group.


In 1978, the Treasury asked Davison to investigate Grays Building Society in Essex, whose long-serving secretary Harold Jaggard had committed suicide in his bath. Davison’s work revealed that over a period of 40 years Jaggard had steadily extracted cash at the rate of £1,250 per week, totalling more than the proceeds of the Great Train Robbery, to spend on “women and racing”.


From 1982 to 1984 Davison was chairman of the Accounting Standards Committee. After his Lloyd’s service he built a wide-ranging career as a financial regulator as well as in boardroom and pro bono roles.


Following the crash of October 1987, he conducted a hard-hitting review of Hong Kong’s securities markets. During the 1990s, again at the Bank of England’s calling, he quietly oversaw the run-off of National Mortgage Bank, which (as a collateral victim of the collapse of the fraudulent Bank of Credit & Commerce International) could no longer fund itself in the money markets.


For the full obituary in pdf, please click here:

Ian Hay Davison, accountant who took on the formidable task of reforming Lloyd’s of London
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Ian Hay Davison (1996): the ‘Wyatt Earp of Lime Street’ Credit: Tom Stockill

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