The paranoia of the super-rich

Ecuador is not a natural home for the super-rich. But it is the cheapest place to get kidnapped.


The super-rich: surely a laid-back approach would be more attractive?

In the unlikely event that you want to be kidnapped, try Ecuador. It won't cost much to free you there probably only around $10,000, according to Hugo Cox in the FT and it should be possible to agree things in a quick call to the captors (who will probably be a group of local workers trying to supplement their income).

Ecuador, then, is not a natural home for the super-rich. Burglary is a routine event and you can't trust the police. One farmer says his current strategy is to leave a few thousand dollars lying around in his house to make sure anyone who happens to break in leaves happy.

How different from the kind of set-up the rich now look for in Britain. Middle Eastern buyers, for example, won't even look at an English country estate these days if it has a footpath running through it. As for houses in desirable postcodes: most wealthy new owners want a safe room, usually the main bedroom, which can be reinforced with a steel door and strengthened walls. If there isn't one there already, they put one in.

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Prize possessions "are painted with a unique DNA solution", meaning they can be identified anywhere in the world a stolen asset register alerts dealers and police in the event of a theft. "If you still hanker for a good old-fashioned safe," says Cox, "make sure it has two codes: one for normal use, the other for when you're being forced to open it, simultaneously alerting the police or your security team."

Then there's the matter of surveillance. Most expensive houses now are full of hidden cameras, sometimes disguised as smoke detectors or heating control units. One security expert says a decent-sized house in a plush London neighbourhood would have 50 such cameras on average a "snip" at roughly £20,000 all in, plus £3,000 a year to have the cameras monitored. And of course these cameras have other uses too. A friend of mine tells me she constantly checks up on the staff in her Caribbean home: the cameras there can be monitored from her phone, enabling her to keep an eye on what's happening at any time she chooses.

There's no doubt that London is now full of the paranoid super-rich, and who can blame them for their caution? More attractive, if foolhardy, is the laid-back approach still adopted in many country houses, even quite grand ones, where the front door is often unlocked and where, somehow, most of the time, the owners get away with an attitude which most new super-rich buyers would regard as incomprehensively lax.

Jez we jam

Jeremy Corbyn may not be the "life and soul of the party", but he's a polite and well-meaning man nonetheless, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. A woman who works for another MP once went to the Labour leader's office for a meeting. She knocked on the door and went in. "Hello," said Mr Corbyn. "Would you like to try my jam?" A little taken aback, the woman declined but said a cup of tea would be nice.

A cup of tea, said Mr Corbyn. "He shuffled over to the kettle, filled it, boiled it, poured it out. Added the milk and then absent-mindedly drank it himself."

Tabloid money Dr Dannii Minogue's suspect exercise regimen

David Davis's first visit to continental Europe as Brexit secretary won't be to Brussels, says James Forsyth in The Sun. Instead, he is expected to address a conference of the BDI, the body that represents German industry. "German industry has a clear interest in a smooth [post-Brexit] transition the UK is one of its biggest markets." Davis's decision to address the BDI is an "indication" of the way he intends to go about getting a good deal from the EU.


"A migrant dad of eight from Cameroon is whining that his family is being neglected by Luton Council who won't give him a six-bedroom house," says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror.

"Arnold Mballe Sube came here from his adopted home in France four years ago because the NHS agreed to spend £27,000 funding a degree for him His family hasalso received a reported £108,000 in handouts this year alone. But instead of being grateful, this greedy tyke wants more." He should "get off his idle backside" and get the kind of job that will pay for the house he wants and "stop scrounging off a state that's already given him more than he deserves".

"As universities prepare to receive the latest intake of students, it seems nearly all of them plan to hike tuition fees to £9,250 from next year meaning even fewer students from deprived backgrounds can attend," says Jane Moore in The Sun.

"But perhaps we can all take heart from the fact that 1,400 honorary degrees' have been handed out to celebrities by the 50 lowest-ranking universities in the past five years. One recipient was Dannii Minogue (pictured), who, intriguingly, was made a doctor of media' by Southampton Solent University." But "given her propensity to tell interviewers that the sudden enlargement of her breasts was down to exercise', you could argue she can doctor the media like a true PR pro".