OUTLOOK: Watchdog gagged

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ALONG WITH the law and medicine, accountancy remains one of the last bastions of self regulation in Britain. I hesitate to argue the case for bringing the profession into the fold of statutory regulation, but Deloitte & Touche's action in issuing an injunction against the Joint Disciplinary Scheme (JDS) has driven the last nail into the coffin of this discredited system and makes eventual FSA regulation all but inevitable. The rest of the profession will not be thanking Deloitte's for so vigorously defending its corner.

It is now nearly 10 years since the events complained of at Capital Corporation, a casinos company which was long ago subsumed into something else. Gone too is the main cause of the mischief, Capital Corporation's chairman, Garry Nesbitt. He died last year, taking with him to the grave the truth or otherwise of allegations that a large part of the company's stock of fine wines found its way into his own personal cellar.

That it has taken the JDS as long as this to get to the bottom of the affair and issue its formal letter of complaint- well nearly anyway - is cause enough for concern. That Deloittes, in the midst of bidding of work for the deregulating gaming industry and therefore keen to emerge without a stain on its character, should find it acceptable or even possible to gag the ruling authority is stranger still. There's too little choice and too much power concentrated in the big four accounting practices. It's time they were reined in and brought to book.