PracticeAccounting FirmsDirectors rush for protection

Directors rush for protection

Almost 5,000 company directors have been forced to seek government protection from militant pressure groups amid fears of a loophole that can be used to evade the protection scheme.

Link:Man Utd FD faces red card over hostile bid

The last 12 months has seen a marked increase in those applying for protection, as militant action groups continue to terrorise certain high-ranking company executives.

An independent panel processes applications for the ‘secure directors’ register’ on behalf of Companies House. Companies House told Accountancy Age this week that 4,792 directors had registered on the list since its creation in April 2002.

‘We are getting more requests from all sorts of backgrounds,’ a spokesman said.

Earlier this month, Manchester United director Maurice Watkins’ property was attacked by a militant supporter group, the Manchester Education Committee, which opposes a possible takeover of the club by American businessman Malcolm Glazer.

The group said it would target other high-ranking directors, including finance director Nick Humby.

Accountancy Age has learned of one potential loophole that could still put directors at risk of being tracked down, after a Companies House official involved with the secure registrar admitted it was ‘limited’ in scope.

The DTI said it constantly reviewed the scheme to ensure it is as watertight as possible.

‘Directors should be able to go about their business without harassment,’ a spokeswoman said.

Despite this, many directors are changing their registered address to that of their accountant, solicitor or head office in order to try and avoid militant pressure group intimidation.

Big Four firm Deloitte dropped audit client Huntingdon Life Sciences last year after a campaign by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

The group carried out daily pickets outside its offices, and the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for smashing a glass-panelled front door at Deloitte’s Nottingham office.

GlaxoSmithKline chief financial officer, John Coombe, is a previous target.

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