Confidential memos, which came to light as a result of legal proceedings
brought by charity group, Friends of the Earth, and released by the Treasury,
have revealed that Gordon Brown pushed through his decision to abolish the
Operating and Financial Review, even though he knew it would be opposed by the
DTI and other government departments.
The memos have now been passed on to the Environmental Audit Committee and
published on the Treasury website.
They reveal that trade secretary Alan Johnson, whose department has overall
responsibility for the policy, was told of the chancellor’s plan just days
before his announcement at the CBI annual conference on 28 November last year.
Friends of the Earth executive director Tony Juniper said: ‘These documents
clearly show the Treasury pushed through this decision, without consulting other
ministers, because of the Chancellor’s eagerness to be seen as pro-business. It
is no wonder that when threatened with a High Court Challenge, the Treasury
‘It is appalling to think that the government’s environmental policies are
driven by the desire to appease business lobby groups – and that no
consideration is given to the environmental effects.’
Friends of the Earth launched High Court proceedings to challenge the
Treasury decision to abolish the OFR, which is the only legal requirement on UK
companies to report on their environmental and social impacts in the annual
It had been introduced following seven years of consultation by the DTI.
In February this year, Treasury solicitors reached an out-of-court settlement
on the judicial review agreeing to pay Friends of the Earth’s legal costs and to
issue a new consultation.
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