Bilderberg seeks supremo — lizards need not apply

THE world’s greatest networking opportunity is about to arise — but the job won’t appear in any newspaper advertisements. Bilderberg, the secretive forum for the western elite and holy grail of conspiracy theorists, needs a new leader.

Martin Taylor, chairman of WH Smith and the group’s secretary-general, has said he wants to step down, and the process of finding a successor will begin soon.

The group, whose annual meetings gather luminaries such as David Rockefeller and Richard Perle, will find a replacement from its 30-strong steering committee, whose members include Lord Black, owner of The Telegraph newspapers, Kenneth Clarke, the Tory MP, and Henry Kissinger.

Taylor, who last month said he intended to quit WH Smith on health grounds, said he did not expect to leave Bilderberg soon. “It is time for me to get out, but the difficulty is finding someone who is capable and has time to do it,” he said. “The people who want to do the job are the ones you don’t want. My expectation is that I will find a successor in the next two to three years.”

Taylor, who also works as an adviser at Goldman Sachs, did his best to dispel the conspiracy theory that the group is a sinister elite of shape-changing lizards.

He preferred to compare his job with that of chairman of a board of school governors. “I am an amateur conference organiser. It is like being chairman of the golf club.”

Taylor said he had done his best to raise the openness of the group, which keeps the minutes of its meetings secret for 50 years.

Bilderberg held its last four-day forum in the grounds of Versailles Palace at the Trianon Palace Hotel.

The ideal candidate for the post will be as much a diplomat as a good party host and will need a thick skin to cope with the “crazies” that stalk members. “Our existence gives them a reason to live,” said Taylor.

But, most important of all, the successful applicant will be an insider. “This is a club,” he said. “And it needs to be someone who knows the organisation extremely well.”

But anyone who hopes to take the job in order to have stories to tell their grandchildren will be disappointed — Taylor is sworn to secrecy on his favourite memories. (6.03.2010, John O’Donnell)

America the Beautiful

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