Scandal that cost pounds 150m compensation: Government will not give public sector work to 13 individuals because of Barlow Clowes affair

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TOUCHE ROSS'S blacklist problem started when it became involved in the Barlow Clowes affair after the investment firm reversed into James Ferguson Holdings, a small listed company, in April 1987.

Touche then took over as Barlow Clowes's auditors, succeeding Spicer & Pegler, and three years later took over the smaller firm.

By April 1987 the Department of Trade and Industry was becoming increasingly worried about Barlow Clowes, which purported to be a fund manager investing in gilts. The quality of the firm's advisers helped to persuade the DTI to allow Barlow to continue to trade.

Spicer & Pegler did not qualify its audit reports on the firm's accounts for 1985 and 1986 and said that there were no matters of concern connected with their resignation.

In November 1987 the DTI appointed official investigators. This led, in May 1988, to Barlow Clowes' closure and liquidation.

Tens of millions of pounds had been misappropriated from Barlow Clowes International, based in Gibraltar, and Peter Clowes was eventually jailed for 10 years.

The Government was forced to pay compensation of about pounds 150m to the 18,000 investors. It has tried to recoup this by issuing hundreds of writs against the financial advisers who recommended Barlow - as well as other, more promising targets such as Touche Ross.