MG Rover : Key points from Media House International’s Dossier

Clive Goldthorp

MG Rover enquiry update
MG Rover enquiry update

Any AROnline readers who have been following the Press Reports on these News pages during the last week or so will already know that the Phoenix Four – Peter Beale, John Edwards, Nick Stephenson and John Towers – have appointed Public Relations Advisers Media House International Limited (MHI) to act for them and that MHI’s Jack Irvine and Ramsay Smith have recently compiled and circulated a Briefing Document entitled ‘The MG Rover Dossier’ to the media on their behalf.

‘The MG Rover Dossier’ runs to 16 pages and much of the document’s contents have already been disclosed in the series of excellent articles by the Birmingham Post’s Jon Griffin which appeared here as Press Reports last week. However, AROnline believes that the ten key submissions made by MHI in the Briefing Document bear repeating below:

1. MG Rover closed in April 2005 – now, four years later, the workforce and the public deserve nothing less than to be given the full reasons for its demise.

2. Various Government departments have refused all requests for information and are treating Freedom of Information (FoI) requests with contempt.

3. The inquiry has cost the taxpayer more than £16milion.

4. Phoenix Venture Holdings provided five years of high quality jobs for 6000 people not to mention between 20,000 -30,000 supply chain jobs.

5. Unlike the recent banking bail-outs, the Phoenix Directors pledged substantial personal sums in support of the offered and then withdrawn short-term government loan.

6. Contrary to DTI misinformation the Phoenix Directors did not plunder the company.

7. The DTI not only failed to support MG Rover but they poured millions into rival foreign manufacturers such as Ford, Nissan, BMW, Vauxhall and Peugeot.

8. The DTI’s dealing with China was amateurish at best and malicious at worst.

9. The Nanjing Automobile Corporation was appalled by the behaviour of the DTI under the then Secretary of State, Alan Johnson.

10. Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to save MG Rover. Those close to MG Rover are firmly of the view that Chancellor Gordon Brown and his adviser Shriti (now Baroness) Vadera blocked state aid. MG Rover collapsed and the 6000 UK jobs and thousands of supply chain jobs were lost.

MHI’s Irvine and Ramsay, who were first ‘asked to examine the circumstances surrounding the closure of MG Rover and the roles played by certain Government, Civil Service and banking figures’ just over one year ago, undertook extensive research in an attempt to discover why the Government withdrew the £120m short-term loan which would have facilitated the proposed JV with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation and so avoided MG Rover Group Limited’s closure. Messrs Irvine and Ramsay summarise the outcome of their research as follows:

‘It is clear that, since the demise of MG Rover, there was a concerted campaign to lay the blame at the door of the Directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings.

‘Apart from the numerous attempts to gain information through FoI, we interviewed the Directors, their advisors, politicians and journalists who covered the story and freely admitted that they were fed an astonishing barrage of negative propaganda from Government sources.

‘Despite Gordon Brown and Shriti Vadera’s lack of conviction about the ultimate Joint Venture process that the £120million loan was meant to facilitate, the essential elements of that JV have now been put in place, independently by the now merged Nanjing and SAIC, but at an enormous and unnecessary cost in terms of jobs and taxpayers’ money.

‘The conclusion that we have reached is that the Government is doing and will do anything to disguise the role played by senior political figures in the closure of MG Rover. And, as in the recent revelations over MPs expenses, it is clear that adherence to Freedom of Information means nothing to this Government.’

Interestingly, one of the more than 30 FoI requests submitted on behalf of the Phoenix Four and rejected by the various Government departments concerned will be reviewed by an Information Tribunal sitting in Manchester on the 10th and 11th August, 2009*. However, in the meantime, AROnline hopes to be in a position to publish the whole of ‘The MG Rover Dossier’ in the not too distant future…

[*Editor’s Note: Please see the preceding News page entry entitled Press Report: ‘Phoenix Four’ set date for court clash over MGR collapse.]

Clive Goldthorp

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