P&O Ferries: Criminal and civil investigation opened into ferry firm after it sacked 786 employees

The government's business crime patrol has started a criminal and civil examination into P&O Ferries, adding to coercion on the at war company.

This move started two weeks after P&O Ferries fired  around  800 workers and returned them with under-paid crew, a decision that the government called unlawful.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng established  on Friday afternoon that the Insolvency Service a subsidiary of his department had decided to set in motion an official inquiry into "the circumstances surrounding the recent redundancies made by P&O Ferries".

It is believed  that the Insolvency Service investigation is on the grounds that it overlooked to brainstorm  workers and unions and didn’t brief the Secretary of State before embarking on the decision. It is also examining into worries about the conduct of P&O’s directors.

A government mouthpiece said: "Today the Insolvency Service has confirmed it has commenced formal criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent appalling behaviour of P&O Ferries."

Mr Kwarteng communicated to the Insolvency Service on 23rd March, asking the custodian to undertake an "urgent and thorough enquiry" into P&O's mass layoffs, to "determine whether the law has been complied with and consider prompt and appropriate action where it has not."

The Insolvency Service  answered to Mr Kwarteng, notifying him that following an inquest, it had proceeded to press ahead with a criminal and civil examination.

pThis week, the government set in motion a boisterous criticism on the company, asserting that it would have "little choice" but to over turn its resolve.

In a memo to company boss Peter Hebblethwaite posted  on Monday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said put fowards being brought to parliament would "block the outcome that P&O Ferries has pursued, including paying workers less than the minimum wage."

He said this would forsake P&O "one further opportunity" to revert back all 800 workers their jobs back on previous terms, conditions and wages - if they want them back. P&O brush off  the opportunity a day later, saying it was sticking by its resolve.

In Mr Shapps' letter to the company's boss, he wrote: "The past week has left the reputation of P&O Ferries and, I'm afraid, you personally in tatters."

"There is no excuse for this behaviour, and as I said publicly on Friday, I believe your position as chief executive, and indeed as a company director, has become untenable," he added.

The company's distress lingered on Tuesday when a second P&O ferry, the Pride of Kent, was delayed after it failed pass on inspection by authorities.

P&O Ferries refused to speak on the matter.

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