Byers had until 6 March to table an amendment to the Bill, currently passing through the House of Commons, enabling directors at risk of violence to apply to keep their addresses secret.
Concern over the protection of directors had reached new heights in recent weeks following the attack on Huntingdon Life Sciences MD and CIMA accountant Brian Cass.
Under current rules, directors must file their usual residential address for inspection at Companies House. The new clause will allow directors to apply to the secretary of state for Trade and Industry for permission to file a service address instead of their home address.
A home address would still have to be provided, but this would be kept on a separate, secure register, which would only be available for inspection by the police and similar bodies.
‘The recent attacks on directors and employees of Huntingdon LifeScience and other companies have been very disturbing. It has broughtthe issue of directors’ home addresses to the fore,’ said Byers.
The move received support from across the profession. Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Peter Wyman, said: ‘I believe directors are entitled to more privacy than they enjoy at the moment. Public access has been badly abused.’
Ken Wilde, technical partner at Deloitte & Touche said: ‘Why do directors need to give a home address? Provided you have a genuine address and not just a letterbox it is still possible to get at them.’
Directors’ privacy has also formed part of the DTI’s company law review but the final report, whose deadline for responses passed this week, will not be published until late April at the earliest.
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