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CAR confidential: Following the MG Rover paper trail

Investigations into investigations sound like just the sort of madness civil servants would condone.

But that’s what CAR Magazine has done recently, probing exactly what’s going on in the Government’s inquiry into the collapse of MG Rover.

It’s now two and a half years since the gates fell shut at Longbridge for the last time, and we’re no closer to discovering the precise reasons behind its catastrophic failure. The inquiry was launched by the Department for Trade and Industry (now rebranded the catchy Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) but we’ve yet to hear back from the inspectors. Not a sausage.

We found that the inquiry has already cost a whopping £10 million – more than the Government spent trying to save MG Rover in the first place. Where’s the sense in that? And every extra week the investigation rumbles on costs taxpayers like you and me an extra £300,000.

Why such high figures? Well, you don’t employ leading figures in the world of law and commerce cheaply, and there’s a mind-boggling paper trail stretching from the West Midlands to London and as far afield as China. The inspectors are slowly piecing together what happened in the months leading up to the meltdown at Longbridge.

Were the directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings, the parent company that bought MG Rover for a token tenner back in 2000, acting illegally? There is no evidence to suggest this so far, and most commentators expect the so-called Phoenix Four to avoid the flak. We might question their morals (they drew generous six-figure salaries and set up a £12.9 million pension fund), but few expect them to have acted illegally.

If the Government inspectors hurried up, we might know the truth once and for all. Not that it will provide much solace to the 6,000 workers who were made redundant and left with just £2,800 each.

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