Cable orders inquiry into Comet failure

Comet - Some rights reserved by ell brownThe Guardian reports:

The business secretary, Vince Cable, has ordered an inquiry into the collapse of high street electricals chain Comet after the government was left with a £50m bill in unpaid taxes and redundancy costs.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirmed that the Insolvency Service had begun a “fact-finding” investigation into the high street chain’s failure: “The purpose of the inquiry is to investigate the circumstances surrounding its insolvency and establish whether further action is required,” said a spokeswoman.

Cable has discretion to demand an investigation “where it is in the public interest to do so”. The inquiry is being conducted under section 447 of the Companies Act which can be a precursor to a more in-depth probe – as was eventually commissioned in the case of serious corporate scandals such as MG Rover.

There were 150 such fact-finding investigations last year and their existence usually remains confidential. Investigators are allowed to demand documents, enter offices and speak to any individuals considered to have relevant information. The matter may rest there, but in the that event wrongdoing is uncovered the Service can seek to have directors disqualified or, if they believe there is evidence of criminal behaviour, pass a file to the police or the Serious Fraud Office.

“We are not in a position to comment further at this stage,” added the BIS spokeswoman. “To do so could prejudice the outcome of the investigation and any future action.”

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Shouldn’t any enquiry into Comet failure be chaired by Lembit? 😉

  • Whilst it is correct to question the £50m bill to the government, we should remember that the workers have also taken a hit by missing out on wages for work done and redundancy pay based on contractual obligations – all of these workers will have been engaged under existing employment law and not under the proposed employee owner (now re-named employee shareholder) status.

    The question every (ex) Comet worker should be asking: when did Comet last pay any NI contributions to HMRC, as their benefits(and state pension) entitlement will be impacted by this.

  • Richard Dean 21st Dec '12 - 8:04am

    Why did this particular investigation not remain confidential?

    Maybe an investigation should be the standard practice for every business failure that is on tis scale. Not only is there a possibility that fraud was involved – embezzlement or cheating on NI payments for example – but BIS may be able to learn more about the process of failure, the key factors, the warning signs, etc, and this information could perhaps be used to guide future investment strategies, business support frameworks, business briefings and eductional curricula, etc.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 28th Oct - 4:55am
    The interesting paradox is that the more the Tories push Hard Brexit, the more likely it is we will stay in the EU. A couple...
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 28th Oct - 4:45am
    Best article on this is John Harris in the Guardian. Says it all.
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 28th Oct - 4:38am
    @Malcolm Todd @Paul Carroll You are both making the assumption that the Article 50 notification can't be withdrawn. Rather strangely, the recent court case proceeded...
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 28th Oct - 4:29am
    You have to look at both leading candidates. I think the major reason for this vote drop is that Sadiq Khan was a much more...
  • User AvatarRBH 28th Oct - 4:00am
    Agree with David Pearce above. There will be a temptation to admit defeat because of news like Nissan but the economic pain will come. (It's...
  • User AvatarEthics gradient 28th Oct - 3:12am
    I think it is useful at to post up a map of how everybody voted. Take a really good look at it and see...