View from City Road: Sir Owen's odd bedfellows

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The Independent Online
Sir Owen Green, former chairman of BTR, seems an odd bedfellow with the massed ranks of the auditing profession, but the vested interests of both were on display yesterday as they called for the introduction of limited liability for auditors.

While accountants are simply worried about being sued out of business, Sir Owen's interest in the debate - outlined in a speech to the Institute of Directors last night - lie more in garnering support for his long-running campaign against the takeover of Britain's boardrooms by non-executive do-gooders and other accoutrements of modern-day corporate governance.

It is hard not to have sympathy with Sir Owen's concern that the Cadbury report implies that auditors dance to management's, not shareholders', tune. It is, however, harder to accept that a return to their old watchdog role would eliminate the need for non-executive directors to provide a check on the board. The auditors' role is in effect confined to the figures; non- executives need to consider the wider issue of stewardship.