Two Ferraris were overtaken at speed by an all-electric Nissan LEAF at the star-studded London Press Club Ball, writes Ray Massey.
Veteran broadcaster and journalist Nick Ferrari was the spirited fast-talking auctioneer as the star auction item –a year’s driving of the pollution-free British-built (Sunderland) hatchback – went under the hammer for £3,000.
And it was bought by the former head of Ferrari in the UK, Wentworth-based businessman and consultant Massimo Fedeli , whose usual stock in trade is gas-guzzling supercars.
‘It’s a fascinating car – a little different to what I’m used to. But it interests me. Especially for driving into London. No congestion charge or tax to pay. And no petrol either,’ he said.
Unlike Ferraris which top £100,000 and have supercar performance figures, the top of the range LEAF – which would cost £26,000 to buy in the showroom – accelerates from rest to 62mph in 11.5 seconds, has a top speed of 90mph and a range on full charge of up to 124 miles.
A fleet of 14 LEAFs ferried VIP guests to and from the event, with two more parked outside the High Court on display.
X-factor runner up Ella Henderson was the star singing performer, using the event to re-launch her career giving an exclusive preview of three songs to appear on a forthcoming album.
More than £30,000 was raised on the night for the Journalists’ Charity, of which £20,000 came from the auction.
More than 400 journalists, including editors and senior executives, attended the event at the Royal Courts of Justice, at a time when relations between it and the Fourth Estate have never been more tense.
‘I suppose you could say we parked our cars -specifically our Nissan LEAFs – on Lord Leveson’s lawn, ’said one Ball organiser.
To loud applause Nick Ferrari himself took the opportunity to have a dig at the legal profession and the enemies of free speech in the Leveson era:’ There are more journalists under arrest in Britain than there are in Iran,’ he said.
The sparkling event compered by BBC journalist and broadcaster Kate Silverton marked a triumphant farewell for London Press Club Ball chairman Philippa Kennedy, OBE, who announced she was stepping down after leading ten Balls over nine years.
She was instrumental in the Ball’s creation as a major fun-filled, fund-raising event to simultaneously raise much-needed cash for the Journalists’ Charity whilst also re-uniting the Fleet Street diaspora for an annual celebration of all that is best about British journalism. Dramatically, her very first Ball had to be cancelled at short-notice just hours after the July 7 terror attack in London in 2005. But that courageous decision was followed by another to swiftly reschedule the Ball to a later date in October that year, where it has remained ever since as a firm fixture in the media’s social calendar.
She was presented at the 2013 Ball with flowers and a specially signed print of Fleet Street created by former Daily Mirror editor Mike Malloy as a token of appreciation for her work over a decade.
Doug Wills, chairman of the London Press Club said: ’I’m sure you would like to join me in giving Philippa a huge ‘thank you’ for bringing together such a great occasion last night and for everything she has done during her amazing ten year run of brilliant Press Balls.’