Accounts of MGN offshoot delayed

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The Independent Online
A FRESH storm is brewing over the annual report published by Mirror Group Newspapers last month after it emerged that the accounts of the Scottish Daily Record, the group's second largest subsidiary, were signed off by its auditors only yesterday.

Coopers & Lybrand, auditor to both companies, said it could not sign the subsidiary's accounts until it could quantify the provisions attributed to it due to the pounds 193m shortfall in group pension funds.

However, it was happy to sign the parent company's accounts because there would be no material effect on the final figures.

The Scottish figures were only finalised at the end of last week, when the directors approved the accounts. Partners from Cooper's Glasgow office approved the accounts yesterday.

MGN's accounts, published on 22 June, showed a loss of pounds 388m and were heavily qualified. Coopers said contingent liabilities could affect MGN's financial postion. In addition, proper records had not been kept in accordance with the Companies Act.

Coopers is to be replaced as auditor by Price Waterhouse at the annual meeting next week.

The Government will this week come under increased pressure to give concrete help to Maxwell pensioners.

The Securities and Investments Board is expected to publish a critical report on the regulation of the Maxwell pension funds and Lord Goodman, the eminent lawyer, has written to Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, arguing that the Goverment should meet all pension entitlements and then reclaim missing assets as and when they are found.

In addition the deeds of the trust being set up to help Maxwell pensioners - led by Sir John Cuckney, chairman of 3i and Royal Insurance - will be formally agreed today by its board. It had been hoped that the trust would have charitable status so companies could gain tax relief on donations, but the board has decided this would make the terms of the trust too restrictive.