Noddy star to head cartel squad at OFT
Friday 27 November 1998
Adrian Walker-Smith, who gave up the stage and screen at 18 for a career in business, will be in charge of a pounds 3m budget and a 16-strong cartel squad at the Office of Fair Trading.
From March 2000, the squad will have the power to enter company premises, seize documents and interview staff when it suspects a cartel is in operation. Company directors who refuse to cooperate face unlimited fines and imprisonment. If found guilty of operating a cartel, firms can be fined up to 10 per cent of turnover.
Mr Walker-Smith said his one sadness was that he would not be able to go on dawn raids himself. "It is part of the system of checks and balances. I need to preserve a degree of impartiality," he said.
John Bridgeman, Director General of Fair Trading, said there was "significant cartel activity" in Britain.
Armed with new powers of investigation under the Competition Act, which became law earlier this month, he said the OFT would be able to root out and destroy cartels "in weeks or months rather than years".
Mr Walker-Smith, 51, joined the OFT in 1987 from Readers Digest, where he was a customer relations manager. He said he was attracted by an advertisement which read: "Join the OFT and hunt down cartels." He has recently returned from secondment in Hong Kong where he was advising the Chinese authorities on competition law.
Married with three children, he lists his hobbies as food, walking and the study of "empowerment".
His squad will be drawn both from within the OFT and outside. They will be expected to have a background already in law, economics or competition policy and will be given special training in how to use their new investigation powers.
Mr Bridgeman would not be drawn on whether the OFT had a "hit list" of cartels it was waiting to break up once its new powers came into effect. He also tried to assuage fears among some businesses about the extent of its powers by saying that only companies which were breaking the law had anything to fear. The vast majority of firms would benefit from the tough new competition regime.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Hacking Trial: Rebekah Brooks, Raisa and a new twist in the saga of a horse fit for a Prime Minister
Israel-Gaza conflict: Palestinian death toll now exceeds 500 – but Israel fights on
Income tax league: Revealed - the UK towns where people pay the most and least tax
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...
£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...