You don't need to be able to audit rocket science programmes to work out why MG Rover collapsed four years ago.

The ill-fated company ran out of cash, burning through the balance that BMW had bequeathed it when it was set free, and unable to raise enough revenue from sales of its aging line-up - or the mortgaging of various assets - to keep the boat afloat.

Read 'Police to investigate MG Rover'

During that period, the so-called 'Phoenix Four', the directors who controlled MGR, paid themselves a combined total of about £40m in pay and pensions contributions. Under their direction the company also spent tens of millions funding ill-advised racing and record-breaking efforts, none of which did anything to turn around sales.

But it’s also worth pointing out that the company did invest a considerable chunk of its inheritance, and the money it got from mortgaging various parts of the business - into the development of the new, mid-sized model that it hoped would turn its fortunes around. There may have been snouts in the trough, but this certainly wasn't the sort of two-dimensional asset stripping you'd expect to see in a company being deliberately flown into the ground.

And that's the crucial point here: does *cock-up or conspiracy lie behind the demise of MG Rover?

Nobody doubts that MG Rover suffered from bad management throughout its brief, unhappy existence as an independent company. But unless the official investigation has turned up a piece of 'smoking gun' evidence to prove deliberate collusion lay behind the company's collapse, it's hard to see what the Serious Fraud Office is expected to find now that it couldn't have managed back in 2005.

And in the meantime we're being denied the chance to read the final chapter in the decline and fall of what was once one of the world's great carmakers.

A chapter that we've already collectively paid £16m to have written.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,