Disqualification of Phoenix Four Directors


You may have seen the news last week that the Phoenix Four, the former bosses of MG Rover, have been disqualified as company directors.

The independent inquiry into the collapse of MG Rover, which reported its findings in 2009, was damning for the Phoenix Four. The picture that emerged was of millions being made not from the engineering of cars but from the engineering of company finances.

It is right that they be held to account for their actions – and banning them from being company directors is part of that. But the decision to disqualify them doesn’t give me any particular satisfaction because it doesn’t change anything for the 6,000 former workers who lost their jobs when Rover collapsed.

The Phoenix Four insulated themselves from the closure of Rover – but, six years on, former Rover workers are still left waiting for the trust fund they were promised. I want to see the Four make good on that promise. Unlike the ban on them as directors, that is something that could actually make a difference for former employees.

I understand they are engaged in a commercial dispute with HBOS who has control over the Phoenix assets. But these are rich men and, whilst that is being sorted out, they could put some of their personal fortunes into the trust.

The issue here isn’t just about the cash – it’s about doing the right thing. A commitment was made. It should be honoured so that the former employees can move forward in their lives.

It would also help to bring closure for the local community so that they can get on with building a new future for Longbridge in the 21st century.

It is time for the Phoenix Four to put up.

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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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