THE Serious Fraud Office announced yesterday that there will be no criminal charges brought over the sale and subsequent collapse of MG Rover.
Bert Hill, Senior Officer, GMB Birmingham, West Midlands region, told News Line yesterday: ‘News that there are to be no criminal prosecutions has come as no shock whatsoever.
‘Until we can see the report, which we understand won’t be available until September, it’s hard to comment.
‘However, the workers won’t be very happy at all.
‘What about the fund that was put aside, about £10m to £15m, by John Towers and his consortium?
‘We don’t know what happened to that.
‘We haven’t seen any of it. Their legal people said four years ago, let’s put that on hold, we’re not paying any of that out until the report is out.’
He added: ‘It wasn’t an independent inquiry. It was set up by the government.
‘However, when it is published you may find it to be critical or damning of the government.’
He added: ‘The people who I see on a regular basis, some of them are still unemployed and some have got jobs.
‘But these are minimum wage jobs, no pensions, no sick pay and none of the employment benefits that we had under MG Rover.’
The SFO announcement came one month after Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson asked it to study the results of a four-year ‘independent report’ into the collapse, which led to the sacking of 6,500 workers.
The SFO claimed it could not comment about the reasons for its decision yesterday, because the inspectors’ report had not been made public. It will be released on September 11.
After Rover’s collapse it emerged that the Phoenix Four – John Towers, Nick Stephenson, Peter Beale and John Edwards – had taken an estimated £40 million in pay and pensions from the company.
Mandelson said yesterday: ‘I just wonder who the Phoenix Four think they’re fooling. I mean they’re the ones responsible for this collapse.’
Mandelson also claimed that he is ‘very intensively engaged each day in one way or another to make sure that Vauxhall pulls through,’ adding that the government has a ‘strong commitment to Britain’s manufacturing centre’.
All Trades Unions Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire said: ‘The announcement by the Serious Fraud Office yesterday that there will be no prosecution arising out of the report into the financial wheeling and dealing around the closure of Rover in 2005 spotlights the way car workers have been treated by government and the financiers who have made a fortune out of their misery.’
He added: ‘The only money provided by the government was £6.5 million handed over in April 2005 to pay the wages for one week.
‘This date is significant, workers will recall that in April 2005 we were in the midst of a general election campaign, clearly this money which kept Rovers open for one week, was to prevent a closure costing over 20,000 jobs occurring during the election campaign.
‘The treacherous cynicism of the Labour government towards Rover workers is a stark warning to car workers today, especially those in Vauxhall and GM Vans in Luton.
‘The then Labour government had no intention of saving MG Rovers, just their own electoral skins.
‘As for the unions, leaders like Woodley of Unite, made speeches about appealing to the government and doing everything possible to stop closure, but in practice they did nothing except line their members up for the dole.
‘Like today they refused to even raise the demand for the nationalisation of the motor industry.
‘GM workers will certainly take note of this and will be determined not to be led to the slaughter by Woodley and the rest of the trade union leaders who are determined to put support for this bankrupt government before the jobs of their members.’