Sally Allen: Thank goodness there are a few good men out there

Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare and myself

Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare and myself - Credit: Archant

Oh, for a few good men! The name of a film and now politically incorrect of course, but I have not met that many female vipers in business, however, I have met many male snakes.

I hope that things are changing these days, and as a survivor of a different politically incorrect world, I am aware of how bad things can get.

The 13,000 staff of Arcadia face being discarded without too much thought. Sir Philip Green, the retail group’s owner, showed his true colours during the BHS debacle and yet during his career managed to have a knighthood bestowed on him. Scandalous and shocking in equal measure. Sadly, tycoons facing disgrace is not exceptional – just remember Robert Maxwell for instance!

I met a similar man back in 1990. Previously, in 1988 I had got Jeffrey Archer’s theatre sponsored in the West End – a first for a building.

I had approached Jeffrey because I knew he owned the theatre personally and so could make instant decisions – one of his specialities I found out!

We became good friends off the back of the deal.

So, flushed with success, I approached another company and asked if they would like me to try to secure sponsorship for them.

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They were obviously delighted with the prospect. After signing a contract agreeing to my 10 per cent commission, off I went and found a willing partner.

This was a multi-million pound deal, and my commission was a very significant sum. Everyone was delighted, and the signing ceremony with the owner who was extremely rich was arranged.

After the champagne, ‘mister big’ took me to one side for what I thought would be a congratulatory slap on the back – but instead he kicked me in the stomach by tearing up the contract in front of me, saying he didn’t need me anymore!

He told me I was welcome to take him to court if I wished, knowing that it would be impossible for me to fight someone with so many resources. A very harsh lesson learnt.

There are some good men though and Jeffrey Archer, although portrayed otherwise by some, is a loyal friend.

So, a few years later when I was owed over £50k by the Spanish government I mentioned it to Jeffrey, who immediately put me in touch with a renowned international lawyer.

Sadly, he told me that trying to sue a foreign government never ended well for the plaintiff!

A few months later, Jeffrey was speaking for me at an event for one of my clients and the Spanish Ambassador was among the guests.

Jeffrey immediately made a beeline for him and explained the situation. It may have been coincidence, but the following week the money was in my bank account.

I am not used to good turns in business as mostly it is cut and thrust, which I accept – but thank goodness there are a few good men out there.