Lord MacGregor said there was a ‘case to answer’ over whether close links between Labour and the two organisations has contributed to changes in its energy policy.
His voice adds weight to calls from Taylor, earlier in the week, for the Commons Public Administration Committee to look into the ‘extremely close links’ between the party and the accountancy firm and the collapsed energy giant.
The former merchant banker and Treasury chief secretary said: ‘The Andersen tentacles do seem to run deep with this government.’
But the prime minister’s official spokesman defended the decision by Labour after it returned to power to lift the long-standing ban on Andersen carrying out government work.
The company had originally been barred by then PM Margaret Thatcher due to its role as auditors in De Lorean sports car firm, which collapsed owing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
After the 1997 election, the ban on Andersen was lifted after it paid £21m in an out-of-court settlement of the De Lorean case – well short of the £200m originally claimed by the Tory government.
Blair’s spokesman said the decision to settle the case had been ‘set in train’ under the Conservatives.
‘It is not something the previous government balked at. It is part of the ongoing process,’ the spokesman said.
He said there had been nothing in either the government’s links with Enron or with Andersen to justify press claims of ‘sleaze’.
‘It is overheated nonsense. Nobody has been able to point to a single fact in either of these two cases that justifies those headlines,’ he said.
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