Insolvency – Thornton case closed

The English ICA will not proceed in any disciplinary action against Grant Thornton over its involvement in the collapse of housewares distributor Heritage plc, the institute decided last week.

Jeffrey Lampert, former chairman of Heritage, alleges that conflicts of interest at the firm, and misleading advice provided by it, contributed to the downfall of Heritage and left him with huge debts.

But an institute investigation decided Grant Thornton had no case to answer.

A spokesman for the Insolvency Service, which forwarded the complaints to the institute, said it was ‘in touch’ with institute officials regarding the decision and was keeping the matter ‘under review’.

Lampert was angered by the decision. He said: ‘The precedents set by this case give every insolvency practitioner authorised by the institute licence to behave as they see fit. I understand that no insolvency practitioner from a major firm has ever been reprimanded by an institute committee.’

Lampert said the Insolvency Service had looked at the case for three months, and the institute for a year, but the institute’s investigation committee had thrown the case out after only a brief hearing. ‘Is this self-regulation?’ he asked.

Lampert’s MP, Dr Rudolf Vis, is understood to be seeking a parliamentary adjournment debate on the issue.

Grant Thornton, which acted as Heritage’s investigator, receiver and tax adviser, said it was not surprised at the decision as Lampert did not have a case.

News Analysis, page 16.

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