34 Photos of Richard Branson That Will Make You Go Hmm

We aren't surprised Richard Branson introduced new see-through tops for the female staff at Virgin Trains. 

Richard Branson likes to pose.

At first, we thought the best way to demonstrate that is with pictures of the man himself. After all, there's no shortage:

1969: File picture of British businessman Richard Branson. AFP/Getty Images

22 June 1984: British entrepreneur Richard Branson inaugurates his new airline Virgin Atlantic Airways. Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images

29 September 2009: Richard Branson poses at the opening of the Virgin Mobile Metro Theatre. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

8 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson arrives at Edinburgh Airport and lifts his Harris Tweed Kilt. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Then we thought that a better way might be to show the Branson's prediliction for getting close to beautiful women:

8 December 2004: Businessman Richard Branson gestures as he arrives to launch his new Virgin Atlantic airline. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

24 February 2009: Sir Richard Branson poses in the pool. Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson, Tiffany Persons and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson, dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

11 February 2012: TV Personality Kim Kardashian, Honoree Sir Richard Branson and Singer Britney Spears attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

11 February 2012: Sir Richard Branson and singer Natalie Imbruglia attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

13 March 2012: Sir Richard Branson launches the day of activity at Liverpool Lime Street Station. Tony Woolliscroft/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson (L) and actress Amber Rose attend the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson attends the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson poses for a photo after being presented a sequined captain's jacket by Las Vegas showgirls. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

Sometimes, perhaps too close to beautiful women:

4 November 2002: Virgin Mobile's Richard Branson and some beautiful Sydney models. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

19 March 2010: Sir Richard Branson interacts with guests during the 'Branson By The Pool' function. Paul Kane/Getty Images

Sometimes dangerously close:

15 October 2003: Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, attends the launch of his latest U.S. company 'Virgin Pulse'. Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Once, the woman was wooden:

26 October 1984: English businessman Richard Branson at the Princess Victoria pub, London. Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Also I'm not sure those windows are supposed to open:

22 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson - and a Las Vegas showgirl friend - emerge from the flight deck window of Virgin America's just landed inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

But then we discovered the motherlode.

It turns out, if you're a woman who stands near Richard Branson, he will pick you up.

14 June 2004: Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson celebrates on French soil after a record-breaking crossing of the English Channel. Carl De Souza/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Businessman Sir Richard Branson plays in the surf on Bondi Beach with a model. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Model Bessie Bardot with Businessman Sir Richard Branson attend a private party. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

31 March 2005: British business tycoon Sir Richard Branson (C) of Virgin Atlantic Airways lifts Indian model Jeniffer Mayani after the airline's inaugural flight touched down at the International Airport in Bombay. SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

4 December 2005: Richard Branson, chairman and founder of the Virgin Group of companies, holds Wang Jingqian, who won a pair of upper class round trip tickets from Shanghai to London. China Photos/Getty Images

28 March 2006: Sir Richard Branson poses with a belly dancer at the Bab-el-Shams hotel resort. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

29 March 2006: British Entrepreneur and businessman Sir Richard Branson poses with Miss England Hammasa Kohistani during a photocall on a stretch of sand on the man-made island known as 'United Kingdom' in the new development, The World, in Dubai. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

23 February 2009: A woman gestures after being lifted by Sir Richard Branson during the official launch of the new Virgin Active. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

22 June 2009: Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson poses with model Kate Moss on a wing of a jumbo jet at Heathrow Airport. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

15 June 2010: Founder and President of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson holds burlesque artist Dita Von Teese as they appear on the wing of a Virgin Atlantic Airways 747-400 aircraft at McCarran International Airport. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

12 September 2010: John Borghetti CEO, Delta Goodrem and Sir Richard Branson celebrate Virgin Blue's 10th Anniversary in Australia. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

3 July 2012: Zoe Hardman, Sir Richard Branson, Lydia Bright and Michelle Heaton attend a photocall to reveal Richard Branson's celebrity team taking part in this year's Virgin Active London Triathlon. Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson lifts a Virgin America teammate on the red carpet. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

Eventually, though, some women got their own back:

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson (2nd L), dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

And one just wasn't taking it any more:

26 September 2002: Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, poses with model Maddy Ford at the launch of Virgin.net Broadband service. John Li/Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Air pollution: 5 steps to vanquishing an invisible killer

A new report looks at the economics of air pollution. 

110, 150, 520... These chilling statistics are the number of deaths attributable to particulate air pollution for the cities of Southampton, Nottingham and Birmingham in 2010 respectively. Or how about 40,000 - that is the total number of UK deaths per year that are attributable the combined effects of particulate matter (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx).

This situation sucks, to say the very least. But while there are no dramatic images to stir up action, these deaths are preventable and we know their cause. Road traffic is the worst culprit. Traffic is responsible for 80 per cent of NOx on high pollution roads, with diesel engines contributing the bulk of the problem.

Now a new report by ResPublica has compiled a list of ways that city councils around the UK can help. The report argues that: “The onus is on cities to create plans that can meet the health and economic challenge within a short time-frame, and identify what they need from national government to do so.”

This is a diplomatic way of saying that current government action on the subject does not go far enough – and that cities must help prod them into gear. That includes poking holes in the government’s proposed plans for new “Clean Air Zones”.

Here are just five of the ways the report suggests letting the light in and the pollution out:

1. Clean up the draft Clean Air Zones framework

Last October, the government set out its draft plans for new Clean Air Zones in the UK’s five most polluted cities, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton (excluding London - where other plans are afoot). These zones will charge “polluting” vehicles to enter and can be implemented with varying levels of intensity, with three options that include cars and one that does not.

But the report argues that there is still too much potential for polluters to play dirty with the rules. Car-charging zones must be mandatory for all cities that breach the current EU standards, the report argues (not just the suggested five). Otherwise national operators who own fleets of vehicles could simply relocate outdated buses or taxis to places where they don’t have to pay.  

Different vehicles should fall under the same rules, the report added. Otherwise, taking your car rather than the bus could suddenly seem like the cost-saving option.

2. Vouchers to vouch-safe the project’s success

The government is exploring a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, to help get the worst and oldest polluting vehicles off the road. But as the report points out, blanket scrappage could simply put a whole load of new fossil-fuel cars on the road.

Instead, ResPublica suggests using the revenue from the Clean Air Zone charges, plus hiked vehicle registration fees, to create “Pollution Reduction Vouchers”.

Low-income households with older cars, that would be liable to charging, could then use the vouchers to help secure alternative transport, buy a new and compliant car, or retrofit their existing vehicle with new technology.

3. Extend Vehicle Excise Duty

Vehicle Excise Duty is currently only tiered by how much CO2 pollution a car creates for the first year. After that it becomes a flat rate for all cars under £40,000. The report suggests changing this so that the most polluting vehicles for CO2, NOx and PM2.5 continue to pay higher rates throughout their life span.

For ClientEarth CEO James Thornton, changes to vehicle excise duty are key to moving people onto cleaner modes of transport: “We need a network of clean air zones to keep the most polluting diesel vehicles from the most polluted parts of our towns and cities and incentives such as a targeted scrappage scheme and changes to vehicle excise duty to move people onto cleaner modes of transport.”

4. Repurposed car parks

You would think city bosses would want less cars in the centre of town. But while less cars is good news for oxygen-breathers, it is bad news for city budgets reliant on parking charges. But using car parks to tap into new revenue from property development and joint ventures could help cities reverse this thinking.

5. Prioritise public awareness

Charge zones can be understandably unpopular. In 2008, a referendum in Manchester defeated the idea of congestion charging. So a big effort is needed to raise public awareness of the health crisis our roads have caused. Metro mayors should outline pollution plans in their manifestos, the report suggests. And cities can take advantage of their existing assets. For example in London there are plans to use electronics in the Underground to update travellers on the air pollution levels.

***

Change is already in the air. Southampton has used money from the Local Sustainable Travel Fund to run a successful messaging campaign. And in 2011 Nottingham City Council became the first city to implement a Workplace Parking levy – a scheme which has raised £35.3m to help extend its tram system, upgrade the station and purchase electric buses.

But many more “air necessities” are needed before we can forget about pollution’s worry and its strife.  

 

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.