Calls for audit independence probe after institute report.

Calls for an independent inquiry on UK audit independence have intensified following the English ICA’s declaration last week that the existing regime is effective.

An institute inquiry found that concerns raised about audit independence in the US following investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission were not repeated by UK firms.

But Jim Cousins, Labour MP, said: ‘I’m quite cautious of accepting an outcome of those who investigate their own profession.’ David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance, added: ‘A straight ban on certain types of non-audit work by auditors is the only way.’ The UK needs a similar set-up to the US’s SEC. Something with real teeth.’

John Davies, ACCA’s head of business law, said: ‘Under the circumstances the English ICA might have felt it fit to commission an independent review.’ The DTI said it had noted the reports, but was not prepared to comment at this stage.

Ian Hay Davidson, the former Arthur Andersen chief who carried out the institute’s inquiry, said: ‘No-one else understands the profession well enough to be able to review it.’

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