No takeover at the IoD
From Christopher Beale Sir: Peter Oborne's article on the Institute of Directors CA nasty plot in Pall Mall', 29 May) either completely misunderstands or wilfully distorts the situation at the IoD.
Our moves to assert the political independence of the Institute and to engage in dialogue with government, rather than simply criticise, represent no change to any of our policies per se and no 'softening' of any attitude. They have been done to enable us to exert greater and more positive influence on behalf of our membership. Our aim is to bring about changes in the business environment, particularly in the areas of 'red tape', not simply to rant about them. We can point to a number of issues where this approach has been highly effective. Moreover, this line has been overwhelmingly supported by our board, council and indeed the membership at large.
The article also contains a number of inaccuracies. It refers to a 'steady trickle of other senior figures' departing over recent months. In practice, not a single member of the IoD's senior staff has left the Institute over the period in question, despite many external attempts to entice them to do so.
Far from him 'being persuaded to leave' by Mr Cox, Lord Young was required to step down under the constitution as President of the Institute when he reached his 70th birthday some 18 months before this reported conversation took place. Far from seeking to persuade him to retire, the Institute asked him to stay on for several additional months. Lord Young's 'farewell dinner' was held by the council in September 2002 — 11 months before your reported 'plot' to get him to leave.
The article cites the fact that the IoD's board and council recently held a meeting with the Prime Minister as an illustration of political bias, completely failing to mention that a similar session has been arranged with the Rt Hon. Michael Howard for July, and a further one with the Rt Hon. Charles Kennedy for later this year. The Institute has regular meetings with senior individuals right across the political spectrum.
All in all, the article gives a very distorted picture. As such it does a great disservice to the Institute.
Chairman, Institute of Directors, London WC1