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The Independent Online
The DTI adviser who recommended a grant of pounds 850,000 of taxpayers' money to Rom-Data Corporation, a computer company, shortly before becoming its chairman, said yesterday his behaviour was no different from that of government ministers. Kenneth Holmes, who was adviser to the South West Industrial Development Board said: "At the time, ministers joined boards of companies they privatised and senior civil servants did the same - it is not unique to advisers to the DTI."

Rom-Data, which subsequently collapsed, is at the centre of a Serious Fraud Office inquiry and, as the Independent revealed yesterday, the Government has launched an urgent review of possible conflicts of interest between its grant-approving bodies, the regional development boards and the companies receiving the cash. Mr Holmes declared his intention to join Rom-Data before his colleagues approved the grant. But David Jamieson, MP for Devonport, who has campaigned for an inquiry into Rom-Data and possible conflicts of interest, said members declaring an interest was not enough. "Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money has been handled by small groups of businessmen on these development boards who are totally unaccountable," he said.