PracticeAccounting FirmsLabour refutes ties with Andersen and Enron

Labour refutes ties with Andersen and Enron

The Labour party has denied building close links with embattled auditor Anderson or receiving donations from collapsed energy giant Enron when it was the official opposition.

A Labour spokesman issued this rebuke after Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Matthew Taylor demanded a full-scale inquiry into New Labour’s links with Enron and Andersen.

Taylor said the Commons Public Administration Committee should look into the ‘extremely close links’ between the party and the accountancy firm and the collapsed energy giant.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme Taylor said he would put down a series of formal questions in the House of Commons on the government’s own links with the two businesses at the centre of the scandal.

Taylor said Enron had used extensive political contacts to press its interests and claimed: ‘There is good evidence of the same happening in the UK’.

He alleged Enron had taken on former Labour employees to lobby for a change in gas policy and Andersen had built very close links with Labour with free work building economic policy when the party was in opposition.

According to Taylor, the accountancy giant had been effectively barred from government business because of a dispute over the DeLorean scandal, but was brought back in after Labour won office in 1997.

Taylor also claimed that since then there had been ‘some very questionable reports’ backing the Government from the firm over PPP.

But a Labour spokesman protested: ‘The Liberal Democrats’ allegations are completely without foundation. The Labour Party has not received any donations from Enron.’

He admitted it was a matter of record that Enron Europe had bought tickets for dinners and sponsored an event, but the last occasion of either was over a year ago.

Downing Street also insisted there had been no impropriety, but prime minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman confirmed that there had been meetings involving Enron which had at times involved former Trade and Industry secretaries Peter Mandelson and Stephen Byers – the current transport secretary – and former Energy ministers Helen Liddell and John Battle.

The spokesman said they were not the only company whose representatives had talked to ministers. He insisted government policy in relation to gas-fired power stations had been guided by what was best for the market.

And he denied Blair had had any official meetings with Enron representatives.

Earlier Taylor had said: ‘Events in America surrounding Enron clearly demand that the relationships between Andersen, Enron and the government are clarified as soon as possible.’

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