Should taxpayers' money have been used to bail out SSI in the same way banks and rail franchises have been protected from meltdown?

Ministers cited EU state aid rules as the reason why they couldn't offer financial support to the steel firm. Then the business secretary - who last week confused Middlesbrough with Manchester - said he was withholding money from the steelworks as it could end up in the hands of Thai banks. When SSI was then liquidated - which rendered the state aid argument redundant as it applies only to companies that are trading - and the Government still refused to step in it was clear they never intended save the plant in the first place.

The state aid argument was a red herring. The Government's - and I believe this would have been the case if Labour was in power too - wanted to be seen to be doing something. Friday's pledge of an £80m crisis fund to help redundant workers was a bid, ahead of this weeks Tory Party Conference, to draw a line under its involvement in Redcar, and appear like it had fulfilled David Cameron's promise to do "everything we can to keep steel making on Teesside." It hadn't.

Verdict: Guilty.


I have no reason to believe the Thai steel man bought the Redcar plant with any other than good intentions.

He wanted to make money for his Thai-based business. The knock-on effect was that about 3,000 staff and contractors were employed. Had he succeeded everyone was a winner.

He borrowed and spent close to £1bn to repair, install new infrastructure and cover losses. In the end he just didn't have enough money to weather a dramatic slump in the market and keep the banks happy.

Where he dropped a clanger was in his communications to suppliers, workers, contractors and MPs who were kept in the dark about his plans once things started to spiral out of control.

Reports that employer's liability insurance, pension contributions and overtime pay weren't being made is plain wrong. The least any employer can do is pay its staff and ensure their wellbeing.

Verdict: Guilty


Amid its financial problems the production side across the Redcar plant was largely very impressive.

Output records were set, more than nine million tonnes of slab were shipped, and new customers were won.

The big decisions were being made in Bangkok. How much the Redcar management knew about those decisions is still to come to light. For now I'd say the Teesside workforce and plant managers did their bit to make this work.

Verdict: Innocent.


Their decision last week to play hard ball with SSI after it had defaulted on loans led to Friday's liquidation. The steel firm had nowhere left to go.

I am not aware of any banks that are happy to leave loans unpaid. They did what lenders do all over the world.

Verdict: Innocent.

Follow me on Twitter @bizecho