Sands shifts to house building

In the short time Sarah Sands was my editor at the Sunday Telegraph – she was sacked after just nine months – I have no recollection of her showing any interest in or aptitude for house building.

Still, Boris Johnson’s great friend and cheerleader – as editor of the London Evening Standard, she backed him as mayor of London, and later she was often accused of being biased in his favour as editor of the Today programme – has lately been appointed a £70,500-a-year non-executive director of the house builder Berkeley.

Berkeley has long enjoyed a close relationship with Johnson’s government. Its late founder and chairman Tony Pidgley was a major Tory donor and pal of Johnson, with whom he was occasionally photographed. Robert Jenrick, as housing secretary, described Pidgley as “a colossus of the property world” and “a brilliant, self-made man”.

Sands has done herself no harm at all by maintaining close links with the Tory party. At the height of the furore over the non-dom tax status of Akshata Murthy – the heiress wife of Rishi Sunak – it emerged she was advising her on media strategy on an undisclosed salary.

Sands is also a partner at Hawthorn Advisors, co-founded by the Tory party co-chair Ben Elliot. Elliot quit the board in 2019 and holds no shares in the firm whose website claims it is a “trusted advisor to leaders and organisations that shape society.” Sands is also on the board at The Walpole Committee, a luxury brand promoter, on an undisclosed salary.

To top it all, on the day Johnson resigned as PM, he appointed Sands as a trustee of the Science Museum, an unpaid but still prestigious role.