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Mandy moves to hide Byers’ blushes over Rover


At the very least, it’s frightfully convenient for the Britishgovernment to call in the Serious Fraud Office to look into MG Rover, a former carmaker. Whether there’s a shocking crime or not, it suits Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, to organise a further delay before this gory case is finally closed.

It took BDO Stoy Hayward’s partner Gervase MacGregor 16 million pounds and four years to report on a case which looked open and shut at the time. Whatever exciting new detail he has unearthed, this attempt to smear the so-called Phoenix Four is little more than political treachery.

The Four, as John Towers and his three cronies were immediately dubbed, were a bunch of chancers who saw an opportunity. They might have genuinely believed they could make a go of a business where even BMW had failed, but few others did. BMW gifted them the company, added 427 million pounds and the (uncomfortably large) stock of unsold cars, and gratefully walked away.

The cash allowed Towers & Co to pretend that a sub-scale business, producing unattractive, high-cost models in an industry with chronic overcapacity could be made viable.  When the money ran out, five years later, the plant had to close.