the suits

Labour MP Austin Mitchell is the man the accountancy profession loves to hate. But while the outpourings of the member for Great Grimsby can be dismissed as the sort of thing you would expect of a politician and former journalist, the man widely described as his scriptwriter is somewhat harder to deal with.

For Prem Sikka acts from within. Recently appointed a professor at East London University's department of accounting, he and a few like-minded colleagues at other academic institutions have been jousting with the profession - particularly over the issue of regulation - for several years.

Recently, though, Professor Sikka - who has found himself reported to his academic superiors for his troubles - has upped the ante. He has twice stood for election to the council of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants - coming bottom of the poll the last time - and has just organised a petition calling for greater democracy in the selection of the organisation's president.

Contrasting the situation with that at trade unions and other organisations, he condemns the arrangement by which "an inner committee of the council nominates presidents up to three years ahead".

The association says this is to allow those chosen for office to prepare for their roles and points to the wide variety of backgrounds shown by recent past presidents. However, Professor Sikka is not impressed. He wants to go ahead with the extraordinary general meeting to which he says his petition of more than 100 signatures entitles him.

Nor is he about to agree that it makes "economic sense" - as the association puts it - to run the meeting together with the one the officers have called to approve changing the organisation's name.

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