While I do not wish to exonerate Andersen for its part in the Enron debacle, George Pitcher (MW February 7) cannot be allowed to paint Lord Wakeham as whiter than white in the affair.
As far as I understand, Wakeham has not, as Pitcher states, resigned as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission. He has merely “stepped aside”, still drawing his salary and presumably retaining the option to return to his position. Moreover, to claim that Wakeham was without blame in the appointment of Andersen to audit Enron’s accounts stretches plausibility. It has recently been highlighted that Andersen was blacklisted from Government business by the Conservative administration – of which Wakeham was a part – for its role in the De Lorean scandal of the early Eighties.
Putting his knowledge of Andersen together with his training as an accountant, presumably Wakeham could have worked out that all was not well at Enron.
Questions need to be asked, therefore, as to whether, as a member of the Audit Committee of Enron (whose duties include the appointment of auditors), he used his knowledge and training to question the appointment of the auditor and why, if he was over-ruled, he did not resign his position. Doubtless, the inquiry into the affair will prove that Enron and the auditors are blameless and that Wakeham is indeed an honourable man, as indeed they are all honourable men. And the whole episode will serve to underline the fact that on signing off the accounts, the most important word in the phrase “a true and fair view” is “a”.