WATCH 10.30pm tonight: Carillion was at the heart of one of the biggest corporate collapses in Britain’s history. Now, insiders reveal a “culture of fear” and explain how creative accounting was used to win government contracts worth billions – even as it raced to the cliff edge. pic.twitter.com/sp72CpAX2C
— Channel 4 Dispatches (@C4Dispatches) August 22, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn reckons the collapse of Carillion was a ‘watershed moment’. Now a somewhat unlikely source is using the same phrase – Sir John Bourn, the UK’s longest ever serving Auditor General, someone who knows where countless bodies are buried, and perhaps with scores to settle, is now off the leash. Jezza thinks the implosion of the out-sourcing giant back in January, which left hundreds of government contracts in limbo, means capitalism is doomed and the private sector should be kept well away from the provision of public services.
Bourn has no such qualms, accepting Carillion is “a watershed moment” because the company was “a Ponzi scheme”. Bourn was “angry and disappointed” at the lack of government oversight and “appalled” civil servants kept awarding Carillion billions of pounds of contracts after a massive profits warning left the hapless construction firm “in such a dicey position”. Arguably this para-statal organisation, entirely dependent on the taxpayer, was poorly monitored by civil servants who preferred dealing with a big company rather than more efficient smaller enterprises. Carillion had lobbyists and close relationships with the government’s procurement bureaucracy.
Dispatches investigation into Carillion on Channel Four at 10.30pm tonight.