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Mandelson in ‘cynical move’ over Pheonix Four

The former chairman of the MG Rover dealer council has accused the Government of attempting to make scapegoats of the four men who ran the company until its 2005 demise.

Richard Cort said the directors, known as the Phoenix Four, have been wrongly singled out as the culprits in the MG Rover saga. The on-going investigation into it has so far cost taxpayers a reported £16 million.

The Serious Fraud Office has refused to bend to Government pressure to investigate the former management team. 

Now Business Secretary Lord Mandelson wants to ban the four – John Towers, John Edwards, Peter Beale and Nick Stephenson – from being directors.

The move is simply a cynical diversion, said Cort. “The former MG Rover management has been wrongly pilloried for years.”

He said the real failings were those of the Government and that two crucial questions remained unanswered: why the Government did not support MGR’s acquisition by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) and why the Government allowed the company to go bust? 

“When Rover went bust in 2005 there was a general election coming and the Government action then was window dressing to divert public attention,” said Cort.

The DTI-commissioned independent inquiry into Rover is due to be published on September 11.

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