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In the novel Towards Zero, Lord Cornelly is described as a "rich and eccentric peer" with an office that is a "scene of city splendour", suggesting that he is a businessman. Early on in the novel, Cornelly summoned Angus MacWhirter to his office.

Some time earlier, Angus had been in a car with his boss Herbert Clay. Clay was speeding and the car got involved in an accident. Clay wanted Angus to lie to the police about the speed of the car to the insurance company but Angus refused and got himself dismissed from his job. Clay had his driving-licence endorsed and later complained about Angus' pigheadedness to some friends at the Savoy Grill. Cornelly heard about it and appreciated his honesty and so offered Angus a well-paying job in Chile, South America.

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