MMC leak inquiry focuses on Offer and OFT
Thursday 02 May 1996
The two regulatory bodies are among only a handful of organisations and individuals that received advance copies of the highly sensitive document.
Fewer than a dozen copies of the confidential report are thought to have been circulated ahead of the Trade and Industry Secretary Ian Lang's announcement last week that he had decided to block the two bids by National Power and PowerGen for regional electricity companies.
Copies of the final report - which included highly sensitive commercial information that does not appear in the published version - were sent to the two regulatory bodies, the five members of the MMC panel that conducted the inquiry and the Department of Trade and Industry.
It is not thought that the report was circulated to any other government departments, with the possible exception of the Treasury.
A political storm blew up when extracts from the report appeared in the Economist magazine. The DTI demanded the return of the document but Adam Raphael, the Economist journalist, refused to comply. The DTI has since obtained an injunction preventing the magazine from publishing further extracts from the report.
Mr Lang was advised to refer the bids to the MMC by the director general of fair trading, John Bridgeman, and the director general of electricity supply, Professor Stephen Littlechild. In evidence to the MMC inquiry, Professor Littlechild said the bids should be blocked because of their potential detrimental effects on competition in electricity supply and generation. "The likely consequence would be less competition, higher prices and less effective choice for electricity customers," he said.
The MMC panel ruled by a majority of four to one that although the two mergers could be expected to operate against the public interest they should be allowed to go ahead subject to certain undertakings.
The dissenting member was Patricia Hodgson, the MMC's director of policy and planning, who argued that competition was insufficient and that if the mergers went ahead there would be less competition and less chance of prices falling.
Whitehall sources said the leak was being pursued vigorously because of its seriousness and because of the highly confidential information in the unpublished version of the report.
"On a scale of one to 10 this leak ranks somewhere near the top in terms of its seriousness," one source said. "Bits of MMC reports or individual pieces of evidence may have been leaked before but never an entire completed report." Ministers are also thought to be concerned about the leaked report being stolen and sold to the highest bidder, because of the commercial information in it.
The leak inquiry is understood to have cleared the DTI and the five members of the MMC panel. In a letter to the Economist's editor Bill Emmott, the head of the DTI's consumer affairs and competition policy directorate Paul Salvidge said the report was "the property of the Secretary of State" and must be returned.
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in 'disturbing surge of beheadings'
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...