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Who is infamous Evil Knievil? And what is he doing now?

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- Tom Winnifrith

When the markets are plunging you tend to read quite a bit about Evil Knievil in the press. Every graduate trainee journalist wants to know what the UK’s best known short seller has to say. When markets are rising as they are now, he tends to fade from view somewhat. Of course you can get the greatest shorting opportunities when folks lose sense of reality in a bull market. But you can also do your conkers as folks can stay mad and shares can defy gravity for quite a while. So if you have not heard from the Great Bear for a while, fear not he will be back.

Evil Knievil acquired that moniker during his shorting of Maxwell Communications. The great socialist newspaper proprietor tried to silence his critics with lawyers letters (something all liars attempt) and so when sending out faxes to explain to dumb City analysts why the sums did not add up Cawkwell signed off as Evil Knievel. The publisher of his first book did not wish to get into trouble with the motorbike rider so made that Knievil. It stuck. Call up Simon Cawkwell and you just ask for Evil.

Like myself Cawkwell’s father was an academic. A distinguished one to boot. George Cawkwell was also an international sportsman (Scotland, rugby). His 23 stone son is no sportsman and no academic – he failed to get into Cambridge. That is not to say that he is not clever, just that he was never suited to the world of academia. Cawkwell trained as an accountant instead.

Although he still practices, for many years he has made a living from the markets. His ruin (other than eating and drinking far too much) is that he is a self-confessed gambler

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