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SFO confirm it will not launch a criminal probe; full report out on 11 September

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has confirmed there will be no criminal probe into the collapse of MG Rover.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson asked the SFO to study the results of a four-year independent report into the saga surrounding the 2005 demise of the company, but it has decided that there were no grounds "to initiate a criminal investigation”.

The SFO said that it could not comment about the reasons for its decision because the inspectors' report had not been made public. It will be released on 11 September.

MG Rover went into administration in April 2005 with debts of almost £1.3 billion and the loss of 6000 jobs.

Lord Mandelson defended the decision to refer the matter to the SFO.

"Now the report will be published, the fraud office having made their decision, and people can judge, in the light of that report, everyone's responsibilities," he said.

Four executives, known as the Phoenix Four, took over MG Rover in May 2000 after buying it for £10 from BMW. A spokesman for the directors said they had always maintained there was no basis for a criminal investigation as the question of fraud had never been raised.

They were "flabbergasted" when Lord Mandelson referred the matter to the SFO, he added.

"The decision to refer the matter to the SFO was the latest in a long line of bizarre and wholly unnecessary twists in the MG Rover story," the spokesman said, adding the directors had "very little faith" in the inquiry, and were sceptical whether the department would publish a final report that was "properly balanced and objective".

"The directors and many others with an interest in MG Rover fear that anyone thinking that this inquiry will get to the heart of the matter is in for a disappointment."

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