Touche employees banned: Government will not give public sector work to 13 individuals because of Barlow Clowes affair

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The Independent Online
TOUCHE ROSS yesterday denied that its public sector work was threatened by a government blacklisting of 13 of its employees and partners because of their role in the Barlow Clowes affair, writes Peter Rodgers.

John Roques, the senior partner, issued a statement claiming it would be business as usual despite a warning from the Treasury that the 13 must not be hired by any government department.

Mr Roques said: 'We are proud to be a major supplier of consulting and other advisory services to government. We have every expectation that we will continue to be selected on our merits to serve a wide variety of government departments.'

The firm said the statement had been made with the approval of the Treasury. The Treasury confirmed that it had seen the statement from the firm, which has been one of the most important advisers on privatisation work, but declined to describe it as approval.

'It was certainly seen here before they issued it and nobody objected,' a spokesman said.

Labour's City spokesman, Alistair Darling, said he would ask the Government to explain next week why civil servants had been warned to exercise caution before they employ Touche Ross.

He said: 'The public is entitled to know what allegations are made against certain Touche Ross staff and, if there are question marks over any aspect of this firm, why they continue to be instructed by government.'

Accounting sources accepted that it was reasonable for the 13 individuals not to be given government work. This is usual practice by a client if a lawsuit is outstanding.

Six of the banned list are partners including John Connolly, managing partner of the London office. The other partners are David Cooper, Stuart Counsel, Malcolm Hoskins, John Lishman and Allan Pye.

The warning came from Sir Alan Hardcastle in May. Until recently he was head of the Government's accountancy service.

The letter is understood to say that because of the lawsuits against the firm over Barlow Clowes 'it is therefore necessary to consider the terms under which all public sector bodies should consider doing business with Touche Ross'.

Although this appears to suggest wider action against Touche, sources at the firm said that since the letter was circulated the accountants had continued to receive work from government bodies, including a review of the BBC licence fee awarded in the summer.

View from City Road, page 35

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