Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Gates 'second only to Blair'
Bill Gates: More powerful in Britain than most politicians
Billionaire American businessman Bill Gates is Britain's second most powerful person, closely followed by a US finance chief and an Australian media magnate, according to a survey.
The list of the 500 people said to wield most influence on British society shows royalty and religion being nudged out in favour of big names from the world of business and finance.
Unsurprisingly, the Sunday Times' Power List says that Prime Minister Tony Blair is the most powerful person in Britain.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation - the parent company of the Sunday Times - is next.
Indeed, religious leaders, along with members of the royal family, are relegated below business and finance chiefs.
The Prince of Wales is seen to have more clout than his mother the Queen because of his high-profile campaigning on issues from architecture to organic food, but they are ranked 36th and 47th respectively.
Nor is there particularly good news for politicians.
Despite Mr Blair's predictably strong showing, the only other politician in the top 10 is Chancellor Gordon Brown in fifth place - just ahead of Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England.
And the Prime Minister's official spokesman, Alastair Campbell, is rated as more powerful than any other member of the Cabinet - coming in at ninth most influential person in Britain.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is rated 61st most powerful person in Britain, behind newspaper editors and former Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson.
Tory leader William Hague fails to make the top 100.
Britain's most powerful woman is said to be Carol Galley of Mercury Asset Management, one of a triumvirate of fund managers known as the Heavy Mob and ranked jointly at 25th because of the power they can wield in boardrooms across Britain.
Pope John Paul II is the only spiritual figure to win a place in the top 100, which was drawn up using criteria developed by Australian academic Professor Stewart Clegg.
David Beckham and Posh Spice rank 91st among the nation's most potent figures, with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson not far behind them.
As a result, John Prescott's 17th position sees him overtaken by the director-general of the Office of Fair Trading, John Bridgeman, whose power to defend consumer rights earns him seventh place.
Similarly, Brian Souter, the chairman of public transport giant Stagecoach, is 37th - and credited with more influence on the national conscience than Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers (85th).
Cookery guru Delia Smith is the only writer to appear while lawyer Cherie Booth, the prime minister's wife, merits 94th place.