Trade secretary Stephen Byers has a deadline of 6 March to table an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Police Bill, currently passing through the House of Commons, enabling directors who believe they are at risk to apply for their addresses to be kept secret.
Under existing rules, directors are forced to make their home addresses public at Companies House. Concern over protection of directors reached new heights this week following the vicious attack on Huntingdon Life Sciences’ managing director, CIMA accountant Brian Cass. The company has been the target of protests by animal rights campaigners.
Directors’ privacy has also formed part of the DTI’s company law review.
The final report will be published in April at the earliest.
One member of the review committee, Richard Sykes QC, chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel, hinted the government could act independently of the review findings.
Others supported the move to greater privacy. Peter Wyman, a PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, said: ‘I believe directors are entitled to more privacy than they enjoy at the moment. The theory is fine for rogue directors but public access has been badly abused.’
As a result of the protests at HLS, home secretary Jack Straw has announced police will be given stronger powers to prevent protests by activists outside the homes of laboratory workers and shareholders in scientific companies.
The Company Law Review discussion document, Completing the Structure, can be downloaded from www.dti.gov.uk/cld/review.htm.