Uproar over UK gold sell-off

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The Independent Online
GOVERNMENT PLANS to auction 415 million tonnes of the UK's gold reserves will today face a double challenge from a legal action being brought by a jeweller and lobbying from the World Gold Council.

Kim Rose, who runs a jewellery business in Southampton will today launch an action in the High Court to try and block the sale.

He accuses the Government of acting irresponsibly and is taking out an injunction to try to stop the auction, which is due to begin tomorrow.

Mr Rose is hoping to persuade a judge to postpone the auction pending a full hearing.

"The price of gold has already dropped and it's in danger of dropping more once the sale goes ahead," he said.

"It just doesn't make good business sense to sell gold at the lowest prices for 25 years and invest 40 per cent of the profits into an unstable euro.

"I believe the Government has handled this in a reckless and irresponsible manner."

Concern over the handling of the sale has sparked a fall in the gold price which has wiped $650m off the value of the UK's gold reserves. the announcement sent gold to a 20-year low of $257.15

Meanwhile, the World Gold Council will today submit a petition against the plans, while in South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki criticised the United Kingdom's decision, saying its negative impact on gold prices threatened south Africa's embattled mines.

Under the rules of the auction, the Bank of England will accept bids from members of the London Bullion Market Association and from central banks and institutions who hold gold accounts at the Bank.

The bids, which must come in US dollars for multiples of 400 troy ounces, can be submitted up to 11.30 am on Tuesday.