From pilfered pensions to plunging stock markets

From pilfered pensions to plunging stock markets

A leading economic journalist kept his audience of GCSE and A-level pupils enthralled with a talk that covered topics ranging from pension thefts more than a decade ago to the global stock market falls of recent weeks.

Liam Halligan is Economics Commentator with The Telegraph Group. He is also a Permanent Panellist for CNN Talk, a commentator for UnHerd – a weekly internet publication edited by Tim Montgomerie, formerly of The Times – and Editor-at-Large at bne IntelliNews, a source of English-language news and analysis about 34 countries, from Poland to Turkey and Mongolia to Russia.

In his talk to the School’s Economics Society, he recalled some of the news stories and issues he has covered, as well as giving advice on the rewards and challenges of journalism as a career. His latest cover story for the Spectator, headlined The Crash We Need, welcomed this month’s sharp falls in the markets as a necessary correction.

Thanking Mr Halligan after the talk, Headmaster Neil Enright, who is a fellow Governor with Mr Halligan at The John Lyon School in Harrow, said: “I know that the boys greatly appreciate the opportunity to hear from and question those who hold prominent positions in fields such as journalism. I am sure they will have taken away a good insight into aspects of print and broadcast media.

“It is particularly important for our boys to hear from those who, like many of them, may not have grown up in highly academic or professionally networked families, but have nevertheless achieved notable success. The persistence and dedication that it takes to establish oneself in an industry whereby such heritage is almost the norm is something that we work to cultivate and support in our boys.”

During his visit, Mr Halligan, who took a first-class class degree in Economics at the University of Warwick and an MPhil at Oxford, recounted how he helped to exonerate RAF pilots blamed for the 1994 Mull of Kintyre Chinook helicopter crash many years after the disaster and how he exposed pension thefts in 2007. His career also included covering post-Soviet Russia for both The Economist and the Wall Street Journal in the turbulent period in the early 1990s after the break-up of the USSR.

He particularly highlighted the stress of deadlines and the need to be able to work under time pressure. He once received a call from the editor of the Spectator asking him to write the cover story in just four hours.

“You need to be able to entertain, as well as educate and inform, have a spirit of adventure and be willing to challenge decision-makers,” Mr Halligan told the boys. “Success follows those who are confident, driven and versatile. You also need to be a good colleague, as well as being informed about a wide range of topics.”

There were a number of questions from the audience. Year 12 pupil Parth Gosalia said: “When asked about his views on the state of the Government, Mr Halligan told us that politics is very vibrant and that this is, indeed, a very promising time for the UK.”

The questions turned to the effect Brexit would have on the UK economy – an issue about which Mr Halligan was optimistic. “He argued in favour of a clean break from the EU and the Single Market,” said Parth. “His case for Brexit seemed to epitomise the entirety of his talk, in that it provided a fresh perspective to the assembled students.”