Boardroom ban risk for Phoenix 4

THE Phoenix Four, the consortium which controlled carmaker MG Rover when it dramatically collapsed in 2005, could be banned from company boardrooms for life.<br /><br />Business secretary Lord Mandelson has asked lawyers to put together the evidence needed to ban John Towers, Nick Stephenson, Peter Beale and John Edwards from serving as company directors in the future.<br /><br />The news came after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) yesterday said it would not launch a criminal investigation into Rover&rsquo;s demise, although it said Mandelson had been &ldquo;absolutely right&rdquo; to ask if a probe were necessary.<br /><br />Mandelson had asked the body to study the results of a four-year, &pound;16m independent enquiry into Rover.<br /><br />The carmaker&rsquo;s collapse led to 6,500 immediate job losses and the Phoenix Four were accused of receiving around &pound;40m in pay and pensions contributions while they ran MG Rover into the ground, an allegation they deny. <br /><br />A spokesman for the group said calls for a ban were &ldquo;unjustified&rdquo;, and would be challenged strongly. &ldquo;Overall, this has been a very shabby and deeply unsatisfactory process,&rdquo; he said.