Peers face Maxwell questions

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The Independent Online
THE House of Commons Social Services Select Committee has called Lord Walker, the former Conservative Cabinet minister, and Lord Donoughue, economic adviser to Lord Wilson when he was Prime Minister, to answer questions about involvement in the Maxwell scandal.

The two peers are expected to appear before the committee next month. A third, Lord Williams, who is a non-executive director of Mirror Group Newspapers, has also been called.

Invitations may not be refused and as Ian and Kevin Maxwell, sons of Robert Maxwell, learned earlier this year, failure to answer questions can lead to a charge of contempt of Parliament. Lord Walker is likely to be questioned about his role as a non-executive director and chairman-elect of Maxwell Communication Corporation in the months before Maxwell's death. Lord Donoughue will be asked about his role at London & Bishopsgate International, Maxwell's fund management group.

The latest session of the select committee hearing starts this afternoon with questions to John Talbot, head of the Arthur Andersen team of administrators to the Maxwell private companies.

Tomorrow, members of the team at Price Waterhouse, adminstrators of MCC, will be questioned.

Frank Field MP, chairman of the select committee, said the accountants would face 'gentle probing to see what they are doing and how effective their actions have been'.

The questions will cover the overlap between the accountants' work and Serious Fraud Office inquiries.

The committee will also ask the accountants how much money they have recovered for creditors, and how much this work has cost so far.