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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 14:56 GMT
PCC chief urged to stand down
Lord Wakeham
Wakeham: Enron unions want answers
Former Conservative energy secretary Lord Wakeham is facing calls to stand aside as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) while his links with collapsed US energy giant Enron are investigated.

Lord Wakeham is expected to face questions from a US Senate committee inquiry over his role as a non-executive director of Enron.

I am sure he (Wakeham) can see the advantage of stepping down voluntarily at this stage while matters are clarified

Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat culture spokesman
Enron - whose collapse last year was the biggest in corporate history - is facing allegations of false accounting on a massive scale.

Lord Wakeham - a qualified accountant - has been a non-executive director of the company since 1994, reportedly earning 80,000-a-year.

He was a member of the Enron board's audit committee, which was supposed to protect shareholders' interests.

He was also paid additional fees for consultancy work and owned thousands of shares in the company.


US trade unions are reportedly threatening to mount a formal complaint against Lord Wakeham to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The peer's role has been questioned by the AFL-CIO, the main US trade union organisation, after thousands of its members lost their jobs and pensions in the Enron collapse.

Liberal Democrat culture, media and sport spokesman Nick Harvey said Lord Wakeham should stand aside from the chairmanship of the PCC until the Enron affair is resolved.

"Lord Wakeham must have developed a sensitivity to these issues at the PCC.

"I am sure he can see the advantage of stepping down voluntarily at this stage while matters are clarified," Mr Harvey said.

Lord Wakeham was not available for comment.

Conservative attack

Meanwhile, the opposition has renewed its attack on Labour's links with Enron and, in particular, the company's accountant's Andersen.

Andersen was effectively barred from government work in the wake of the De Lorean car company scandal 20 years ago and Margaret Thatcher started trying to sue the company for around 200m.

The Conservatives say Labour had close links with Andersen in opposition and that when they came into government settled the court case for just 22m.

Downing Street counters that when Attorney General John Morris decided to settle the case on legal advice he was only continuing a process of reviewing the case begun by the Tories.

See also:

09 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Lord Wakeham - the 'Fixit' man
28 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Papers censured over Euan coverage
29 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Number 10 'misled us' - Tories
29 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Enron claims and counter-claims
29 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Q&A: Enron sleaze row
29 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Ministers' Enron meetings
28 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Downing Street rebuffs Enron claims
14 Jan 02 | Business
Audit giants called to account
28 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Labour's Enron difficulties
29 Jan 02 | Cambridge Utd
Chairman stands down
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