Spottiswoode Attacks British Gas `Machine'
Harrison, Michael, The Independent (London, England)
Clare Spottiswoode, the gas industry regulator, yesterday launched an astonishing attack on British Gas, accusing the company of attempting to undermine her as part of an orchestrated campaign to fightprice controls on its pipeline business, TransCo.
Ms Spottiswoode, the director general of gas supply, said she had heard that the British Gas board, led by chairman Richard Giordano, had commissioned a psychological profile of her as part of the campaign. Ms Spottiswoode also referred by name to one of British Gas's public relations advisers, Angus Maitland.
The outburst against British Gas and its "huge machine" came as the company rejected the TransCo price controls as "unjustified and unworkable" and announced it was taking its case to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Ms Spottiswoode has been at loggerheads with the company for the past three months since it described her proposals as "the biggest smash-and- grab raid" in corporate history. They would cut pounds 28 off the average bill but reduce TransCo's revenues by pounds 650m a year and, according to the company, put 10,000 jobs and the integrity of the gas system at risk. Yesterday Ms Spottiswoode said: "They have a huge machine, they have their lobbyists, their advisers, their Angus Maitlands of this world. We do not have the resources to get into this." British Gas seemed to think, she said, that its "huge publicity campaign will affect what we think, of what the MMC panel think". But, she said, its tactics would prove counter-productive. She said British Gas had had a "pretty vitriolic" relationship with her predecessor at Ofgas, James MacKinnon, and that its behaviour was "just in character" now. "To lose one regulatory relationship is bad news," she said. "To lose two is extremely bad news." Last night the company rejected the criticisms. Philip Rogerson, British Gas's deputy chairman, said: "I was both saddened …
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Publication information: Article title: Spottiswoode Attacks British Gas `Machine'. Contributors: Harrison, Michael - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 4, 1996. Page number: 20. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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