PracticeAuditSpies who stayed out in the cold

Spies who stayed out in the cold

Whisper it but this week comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn saw fit to qualify the accounts of the UK's security services. And while the qualification itself isn't exactly secret, it isn't being volunteered either - it's news that floats somewhat uneasily between official and unofficial states.

Sir John said he had been forced to qualify as he had been ‘unable to obtain all the information and explanations’ he felt he needed to given the accounts a clean bill of health. However, we were told little more.

Even the Commons Public Accounts Committee was kept in the dark about the report involving GCHQ – members were not even shown the statements on a confidential basis. It was merely ‘seen’ by chairman Edward Leigh under ‘normal arrangements’.

The sensitivity of such accounts is not at issue. Neither would anyone suggest full disclosure is an option. But is this degree of secrecy necessary?

It doesn’t reflect well on the security services – or the NAO – when negotiations about the accuracy of the agencies’ accounts are so shrouded in secrecy.

Related Articles

Is predictive analytics the end of the annual audit?

Audit Is predictive analytics the end of the annual audit?

3d Martin Herron, MHA MacIntyre Hudson
Auditors ‘in the dock’ over Carillion as report calls for Big Four break-up

Audit Auditors ‘in the dock’ over Carillion as report calls for Big Four break-up

1w Emma Smith, Managing Editor
PCAOB sanctions former Deloitte Turkey CEOs over altered documents

Audit PCAOB sanctions former Deloitte Turkey CEOs over altered documents

2w Alia Shoaib, Reporter
KPMG South Africa to review past audit work amid fresh scandal

Audit KPMG South Africa to review past audit work amid fresh scandal

1m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
FRC introduces £10m sanctions for Big Four firms

Audit FRC introduces £10m sanctions for Big Four firms

1m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Ukraine’s PrivatBank files $3bn claim against PwC

Audit Ukraine’s PrivatBank files $3bn claim against PwC

2m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Grant Thornton to exit FTSE 350 audit market, citing Big Four dominance

Audit Grant Thornton to exit FTSE 350 audit market, citing Big Four dominance

2m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Big Four dominate FTSE 250 audit market in Q1 rankings

Audit Big Four dominate FTSE 250 audit market in Q1 rankings

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter