A huge outcry against the English ICA’s decision to fine rather than expel Tim Smith, the former Tory MP at the centre of the cash-for-questions scandal, brought a promise last week that officials would undertake a review of the institute’s disciplinary procedures.
Vice president Chris Swinson told last Wednesday’s council meeting that executive officers had already voted to press ahead with a review, as predicted last month in Accountancy Age (29 January). But he sidestepped demands that any review should be wide-ranging and conducted by an independent body.
Swinson was responding to a debate, sparked by sole practitioner Peter Mitchell, following the investigation and subsequent disciplinary action brought against Smith.
Smith was fined #1,000 with #2,150 costs for taking #18,000 from Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed. The former Beaconsfield MP was severely criticised by Sir Gordon Downey, the parliamentary standards commissioner.
Since the fine was disclosed, the institute has been deluged with telephone calls and letters from members expressing concern that Smith had brought the profession into disrepute and more action should have been taken.
Swinson headed off a vote when he said: ‘The executive has agreed that a review should take place in a discreet and quiet fashion. It needs to be discreet because it should protect the workings of the current committee.’
Earlier, Mitchell, who is also chairman of the Small Practitioners’ Association, called on the council to back a ‘fundamental review. (It) is required to prop up the public’s flagging belief,’ he said.
Douglas Llambias agreed: ‘If there is to be a review it must be radical and conducted by an outside, independent body.’
Institute president Chris Laine said he would present proposals for the review to the council at the earliest opportunity.
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