Phoenix Four await the verdict of 16m inquiry

A REPORT into the collapse of MG Rover which has cost &pound;16m and lasted four years will finally be published this week, with the activities of the so-called &ldquo;Phoenix Four&rdquo; set to be the focus of attention.<br /><br />Former Rover directors John Towers, John Edwards, Nick Stephenson and Peter Beale took over the carmaker for &pound;10 in 2000, but came under the spotlight for withdrawing millions of pounds in salary and other benefits prior to its collapse in April 2005.<br /><br />The Serious Fraud Office last month backed away from a full-scale criminal investigation into the activities of the Phoenix Four, who have always denied any wrongdoing.<br /><br />If the report, published on Friday, details evidence of any questionable practices on the part of the quartet, they could be banned from serving as company directors in future.<br /><br />Accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward and state-appointed inspectors Guy Newey QC and Gervase MacGregor will pick up a combined &pound;16.3m for their work on the report.<br /><br />The collapse of MG Rover came at the cost of 6,500 jobs and prompted criticism of the government, which backed the Phoenix takeover and later furnished the company with a &pound;6.5m loan in a last-ditch bid to save it from collapse.