On Ritchie and his reaction to making a mistake

So, there was this lovely piece in which Ritchie tried to look at the accounts of Centrica.

Now I can spot the £2,625m group operating profit that ties to the segment note in there. But can you find the £2,516 referred to on page 37? No, neither can I.

And is the tax charge on page 37 the same as the group P & L? Not unless £1,169m is now the same as £1,110m.

And can you tell how much of the £2,625m operating profit is in the Uk from the segment note? Is it that sum less the Direct Energy profit of £331m? If so that’s £2,294 but page 37 says the UK operating profit is either £2,079 or more likely for comparison here £1,956m.

So do I think Centrica is telling me what I need to know about UK profits and tax? No, I don’t.

Nor do I think its IFRS8 segment reporting is complete because I think it should be reporting the UK as a segment as it clearly has data for the country as a whole.

And the result of all this is that I think my claim is more than justified having spent some more time looking at this today.

But I promise – if Centrica want to tell me where I’ve gone wrong and why someone should spend several hours trying to answer such a fair question from their accounts, I’m more than happy to publish the explanation.

We then get this explanation of what Ritchie has wrong from the FCA Blog.

And that’s it. This is the man that goes into rants about how companies need to be forced to disclose more information in their accounts. But when presented with a set of statutory accounts, he demonstrates time and time again that he’s incapable of understanding the information that’s already there.

This is brought to the attention of the Murphmeister and his response is:

I do not respond to anyone who breaches almost every rule on professional ethics ever written

Isn’t that cute?

Sure, according to the letter of what Richie said he would only publish an explanation coming from Centrica. But then it is Ritchie who continually says that we should look to the spirit, not the letter, isn’t it? There is an explanation of the information that Ritchie was seeking. Shouldn’t he, in that spirit, thus publish it? Respond to it?

And if anyone at Centrica does indeed read this then why don’t you send Ritchie that explanation yourselves? And let us know that you have done?

28 thoughts on “On Ritchie and his reaction to making a mistake”

  1. “I do not respond to anyone who breaches almost every rule on professional ethics ever written”

    I’m no lawyer, but I reckon that’s libellous.

  2. Of course, if you see this as a narrative tale, what the man’s doing is entirely consistent. His character is the lone champion of the…whatever.. fearlessly challenging he forces of evil. The script calls for the face off. The brave hero. The corpulent oppressor, running his finger round his too tight collar the sweat of fear dampening his brow. See Clint Eastwood in the deserted street of a dusty Mexican town. The inhabitants cowering behind their doors. it does not need the stable boy yelling “Oi! Mister! Yer flies are undone.” from off camera.

  3. The problem with Murphy seems to me an amazing level of arrogance that means he doesn’t bother checking anything he writes, he opines on subjects where he has no expertise, he never speaks to anyone else who might have expertise, and when all this leads to mistakes he never, ever, admits it.

  4. Well, we’ve got our answer now: the whole audit profession is has brought into disrepute by its practices.

    So, he doesn’t need to respond to Christie, Tim or anybody does he! We can add auditors to microeconomists, lawyers, bankers, tax advisors, the senior staff of HMRC, statisticians, all of whom are corrupted beyond redemption.

    If you’re feeling bad Christie, my experience of him is a man who doesn’t like having his trousers pulled down in public and who, for psychological reasons possibly suggested by Surreptitious Evil, consequently either simply ignores correction or becomes ever more aggressive. One day somebody will hit him with a writ.

  5. On RMs website today he quotes from some article claiming it ‘nails’ the argument against a living wage because we in the UK won’t be able to reduce our wages to Chinese levels [but no one is seriously arguing that we do] and if we did [which isn’t being argued for] then below China are places like Vietnam [true but no one is arguing for Chinese level wages anyway] and the only way we would get there is via military dictatorship [scary indeed but that Chinese wage argument isn’t being made] and a 30 year recession [which would be awful but we aren’t even heading for China].

    Yeah, really nailed that argument. Next time some beleaguered business owner tries to keep wages down he’s obviously the reincarnation of Pol Pot and is taking us back to Year Zero.

    One of the things that makes me laugh about RM are his little sign offs along the lines of “everyone in the world thinks everything I say is brilliant. And so do I” It’s that last little “I’m so serious” sentence.

  6. It’s literally incredible that Ritchie was a practising accountant for years and doesn’t know this stuff. As in, I don’t believe it for a second. In which case, he’s clearly deliberately lying.

    Since we can see that he’s clearly malicious rather than stupid, the only conclusion is that he knows full-well that his proposals are outright Nazism, and is pushing them because those are the views he supports.

  7. Ciaran – what sort of costs are we looking at?

    Christie – I am prepared to pitch in to cover legal costs. I am hereby giving Tim permission to share my email address with Christie if he/she wants to take up the offer.

  8. Christie – I am prepared to pitch in to cover legal costs. I am hereby giving Tim permission to share my email address with Christie if he/she wants to take up the offer.

    Me too.

  9. It’s my impression that accountancy is a combination of book-keeping and tax avoidance. It seems that Richardhead can cope only with the second.

  10. Ciaran said: I am a lawyer and it is indeed defamatory (albeit slander not libel)

    My OED states that Slander arises from a spoken, oral remark, whereas Libel relates to the written word.
    The quote by Murphy appears on his blog, hence libel would appear the case here?

  11. NotALawyer:


    “The High Court has ruled that defamation on internet bulletin boards is akin to slander rather than libel.

    “Mr Justice Eady hearing a case regarding posts on an investors bulletin board (or forum) has said that such comments are not to be taken in the same context as a formal newspaper (etc) article and are more like slander due to the casual or conversational nature of them.”

  12. I’m a member of ICAEW like Ritchie and Christy (and also incidentally the Chartered Institute of Taxation) and I think it’s a serious matter that needs taken further, at least by writing to ICAEW in the first instance.

    This fascist doesn’t allow Christy to defend himself due to his comments policy. That is wrong

  13. Dave,
    “The High Court has ruled that defamation on internet bulletin boards is akin to slander rather than libel.

    Thanks for that Dave, I stand corrected.

    Time moves on…….and leaves me behind, and my OED.

  14. NAL>

    I don’t think the definitions of slander and libel have changed, so much as that the situation at the time that OED definition was written has changed, and it’s no longer the case that the written word is synonymous with permanency.

    The ruling seems to me to make a lot of sense, even if a record exists of past conversations. You’d still consider something slander rather than libel if someone vocally defamed someone else in a place that happened to have sound-recording CCTV.

    We already had the converse, where defamation on stage, or on TV or the radio, is considered libel rather than slander, I believe.

  15. Dave: his proposals are outright Nazism

    …funnily enough that lot were rather good at implementing accounting reform.

    Not what they’re mainly remembered for – so quite like the fat necked one in that respect!

  16. Well, I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but I’m not sure I want to sue him for defamation. Sorry about that.

    I’m not even sure I want to complain to ICAEW about him. Ideally I want him to stop posting stupid shit altogether. But as that may be a step too far, it would be nice if he were a little bit more humble when he’s overstepped the mark and people – even those of an unethical bent – seek to correct him.

    Of course, complaining to ICAEW may be the only way to get there. That’s a pity.

  17. Can’t see briefing legals or complaints to professional bodies is productive.
    Try looking at this from a Richie perspective. To the very few who know what all this is about, it looks justified. But to Richie’s unwashed cheerleaders this is big money & neoliberal ™ establishment ganging up on the Great Tax Evasion Campaigner. Makes him an even greater hero.

  18. “Of course, complaining to ICAEW may be the only way to get there. That’s a pity.”

    I doubt that would do much, either.

    Richard Murphy is a megalomaniac. The salient personality traits involved here are (1) narcissism (2) intellectual dishonesty and (3) cowardice. And as is often the case, cowardice manifests itself as bullying. I doubt a professional complaint against someone harboring the above three personality traits are going to learn anything from a reprimand (or even loss of license).

    Probably best to just continue to torment him with the facts.

  19. edit: “… is going to teach them anything. The Murphys of the world aren’t going to learn…”

    Must remember that proof-reading is my friend, not my enemy.

  20. Christy

    the real problem is that as far as I understand the statutes of the ICAEW, there is no reason to complain about him. There seems to be no redress against a fellow member spouting bullshit to the media, that makes all fellow accountants seem like sheep-shagging morons.

  21. “I do not respond to facts that disprove my opinion”

    There, I fixed it for you. Now go away and take up gardening or something. This is getting embarrassing for you

  22. Well Christie has spoken and his equanimity makes The cretin look even more pusillanimous than normal – Bravo!

    But, I do hope someone does take him to task at some point for his outlandish slanders which seem to be more akin to some crazed US conspiracy theorist. I don’t say much good about the current UK government but in ignoring the likes of Murphy they are doing exactly the right thing….

  23. I don’t think Christie can sue as s/he writes anonymously and thus cannot be defamed. Who is it who is being lowered in the eye of the man on the Clapham omnibus?

    Shame though.

  24. Also, to be fair to Murphy, what do you expect him to do upon it being pointed out that he’s made a mistake?

    If he apologised it would set a precedent that would see him firing out apologies and corrections like a 2 Para machine gunner on speed.

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