PracticeAccounting FirmsBrown and Hewitt tight-lipped on Andersen

Brown and Hewitt tight-lipped on Andersen

Chancellor Gordon Brown and Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt have rejected demands in the Commons to detail meetings between ministers and special advisers in their departments and employees of Andersen or Enron or related businesses.

Brown told Labour MP Austin Mitchell – following prime minister Tony Blair’s example ‘that as with previous administrations it is not this government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.’

And Hewitt told Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Matthew Taylor that in line with No. 10, ‘it is not normal practice to release details of meetings or discussions with private individuals or companies’.

The replies came amidst a series of responses to demands from MPs for more information about the government’s links with the accountancy firm and others following the Enron collapse.

Hewitt admitted at one point that she attended a business dinner hosted by Andersen and had chaired a seminar on e-commerce hosted by the DTI and Andersen Consulting (now spun-off as Accenture).

She said current contracts with Andersen include a framework arrangement for Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund projects, a study of the UK competitive position and research and updating of information sheets.

Hewitt revealed there had been one accountancy and seven consultancy contracts with Andersen or Accenture since Labour won office in 1997, In addition there had been three secondees from Andersen to her department during this time and one DTI secondment to Andersen Consulting.

But she denied having any contracts with Enron or Enron Europe but confirmed her department had given three consents in relation to power stations in which Enron Europe was involved.

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