Whiff of politics over fraud referral

BUSINESS Secretary Lord Mandelson last week pledged Government support for a rescue deal to secure the future of troubled car maker GM Europe, including Vauxhall in the UK.

BUSINESS Secretary Lord Mandelson last week pledged Government support for a rescue deal to secure the future of troubled car maker GM Europe, including Vauxhall in the UK.

He did not (of course) mention how much such support might cost the taxpayer or even specify what form the support might take, but the intention was made clear.

Plainly, some such deal will now have to be done if the Government is to avoid a further erosion of its credibility (always assuming that it had any left to lose).

How times change. Four years ago, Ministers allowed MG Rover to go to the wall with the direct loss of 6,000 jobs and perhaps nearly twice as many more among the company's suppliers and dealership.


You may also want to watch:


Given the economic circumstances then prevailing, it was not necessarily the wrong decision. However, the Government does seem strangely reluctant to allow the publication of the independent report into the collapse of MG Rover which it commissioned at the time and which it finally received last month.

The reason given is Lord Mandelson's decision to request the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether a criminal investigation is now appropriate.

Most Read

This is very odd. For one thing, the administrators of MG Rover made it clear, six months after their appointment, that they had found no evidence of any misconduct by the company's management.

For another, if the independent inspectors have found any evidence to the contrary, should not of SFO have been called in months ago, with its investigation taking precedence?

The four bosses of MG Rover, who deny any wrongdoing, suggested yesterday that the SFO referral was a ruse by the Government to delay publication of the report in order to avoid embarrassment ahead of a General Election over any criticism relating to its own role in the affair.

Given that the Government has already been criticised by the Commons public accounts committee for its conduct, this allegation does have some credibility.

While the SFO clearly now has a duty to consider the evidence as requested, senior officers would do well to remember the controversy over other recent cases involving the alleged politicisation of the police.

For its part, the Government might do well to remember of lesson the “Arms to Iraq” affair of the 1990s in which the unsuccessful prosecution of four company directors caused rather greater political embarrassment than that which Ministers had sought to avoid in the first place.

n One of the so-called “Euro Myths” which apologists for the European Union have always enjoyed debunking is its ban on excessively curved cucumbers.

How, then, do the Europhiles explain last week's announcement from the European Commission that the restriction is to be lifted?

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus