MG Rover inquiry referred to Serious Fraud Office


The government has today announced that the findings of the independent inquiry into MG Rover will be referred to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The announcement – confirmed in a written statement to the House of Commons earlier today – said that the SFO has been asked to review events which led to the collapse of the MG Rover Group. It follows a report by the independent investigators appointed by the government following the collapse of MG Rover in April 2005.

It is right that any grounds for criminal or other legal investigations arising from the Inspectors’ report are pursued. It is also important that nothing is done to prejudice those inquires. I don’t know what the Inspectors’ report contains so I can’t say whether the publication of its findings at this stage would compromise any legal inquiries.

What I do know is that my constituents – including many former MG Rover workers – and people in the West Midlands still need to be told the facts about what led to the closure of the company. They have already waited over four years for those answers and they know £16m of public money has been spent on the Companies Act Inquiry. It will be a bitter blow for everyone to face the prospect of further delays before they get answers to their questions.

For former employees of MG Rover, and associated companies, this could also mean longer delays in the Phoenix Directors paying their former employees the share they were promised from the assets of the Phoenix companies which did not go bust at the time of the Longbridge collapse. In my view, a commitment was made to those employees and it should be honoured.

But nobody should try to use these things as a pretext to stop the findings of the Inspectors’ report being referred for criminal or other inquiries. If there are grounds to hold people to account then they should be held to account.

I also don’t buy the conspiracy theories that are circulating in some quarters. Some have suggested that referring the Inspectors’ report to the SFO is some kind of government cover-up – kicking the MG Rover affair into the long grass. But, to put it bluntly, involving the SFO gives ministers less, not more control over the timing of events.

Everyone needs to remember who is important in all of this – the people who lost their jobs when MG Rover collapsed, their families and those living in the communities in the West Midlands for whom the company was so important. They deserve answers to their unanswered questions and that means the Inspectors’ report must be published as soon and as fully as possible.

Our local community should be given the chance to draw a line under all of this and move on; to press ahead the redevelopment of the Longbridge site to provide the new jobs, training and opportunities that local people deserve.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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