Letter: Powers of DTI inspectors are an offence against natural justice

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Sir: Your view (Business comment, 18 December) that DTI reports should continue to play an important role in "the apparatus for determining blame" in corporate malfeasance is at best controversial.

The massive expense of DTI reports, not to mention the bureaucratic inefficiency and inordinate delays, makes their public service highly questionable. But more importantly, the exceptional powers conferred upon DTI inspectors are contrary to natural justice.

If one speaks to those who have been subjected to the oppressive procedure of DTI inspectors, the themes are all too familiar. They consistently complain of prejudice on the part of inspectors; of disjointed and disorderly questions; of interviews conducted in windowless rooms; of being pressed to react instantly to questions relating back many years.

Inspectors are entitled to rely upon evidence that would be inadmissible in a court of law. They are not required to reveal the identities of witnesses and so those under investigation are denied the right to confront or cross- examine their accusers.

It is unacceptable that reports prepared in this manner are routinely published with massive publicity, even though the findings are likely to destroy the reputations of those under investigation.

GRANT MACKRILL

Bushey, Hertfordshire

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