PracticeConsultingHLS attack prompts anonymity calls

HLS attack prompts anonymity calls

Pressure is growing on the government to allow directors of listed companies the right to withhold private details such as their home addresses following recent attacks on key personnel.

The move comes as Wednesday’s deadline for responses to the Company Law Review – which contained proposals to allow directors to elect to not have their details made publicly available – approaches.

Concern over protection of directors reached new heights following the attack last week on Huntingdon Life Sciences’ managing director, accountant Brian Cass.

As a result of the protests at HLS, Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, has indicated police will be given stronger powers to prevent protests by animal rights activists outside the homes of laboratory workers and shareholders in scientific companies.

However, private details of directors will still be publicly available and the proposals in the Company Law Review will go some way to protecting them.

Richard Sykes QC, chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel and a member of the Company Law Review committee said the final report would be published in April or May, but hinted the governmnet might decide to act independently of the review.

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. It is an invasion of privacy to have to give a home address.’

Peter Wyman, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: ‘Personally, 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.’

Wyman pointed out that it was not just protestors that made use of private address – the media had often been accused of hounding directors? families.

The Company Law Review discussion document, Completing the Structure, can be downloaded from www.dti.gov.uk/cld/review.htm

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