The answer is no.

But he can initiate the process through the courts.

If he does so, he (or rather the poor soul representing his Ministry) will have to prove to a judge that the Phoenix Four acted in a way which makes them unfit to be company directors. But it is the judge who ultimately decides.

If there is a disqualification, the process permits an appeal, which these four individulas can certainly afford. Of course, they may not care. They have pocketed the money and may choose to just run! If the directors are disqualified, the court will typically order them to pay a contribution to the costs of the application.  Expect this story – and the process – to run and run as long as the politicians are riled about it. That could mean up to three years, if experience is any guide.

Lord Mandelson is convinced the four men should “do the decent thing” and formally disqualify themselves from holding any future directorships: “I think the directors are showing brass neck nerve in the light of these findings of a very thorough and painstaking report to suggest that it is a whitewash or a witch-hunt when the finger of blame and responsibility points so clearly at them,” he said. “I think, in the circumstances, they would be better off offering some humility and even an apology to those who lost their jobs and the creditors who lost their money as a result of this company’s collapse.” 

Stuart Miller is a senior partner of European business law firm Miller Rosenfalck. Related articles:Details of MG Rover demise laid bare

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