More than a decade ago, a listed Black Country company called Danks Gowerton ran into a patch of controversy and in an effort to draw a line under the fuss appointed a new finance director, a partner in the Wolverhampton firm of chartered accountants that did its audit.

Then it emerged that the partner in question had directed the audit personally and the controversy became livelier than ever. Quite how it all turned out, I have forgotten. But Danks Gowerton is no longer with us, not as a listed company anyway, and I haven't heard of the Wolverhampton firm for some while.

But I do recall that the partner who moved in as finance director of a company he had been auditing incurred the wrath of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Now Barclays is not Danks Gowerton. It is not involved in any controversy just now. Chris Lloyd, its finance director-designate, has not been running its audit by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for two years. It will be three by the time he takes over his new job next April. Equally to the point, the Audit Practices Board has addressed this very issue and has laid down that a two-year interval is enough.

You may argue, too - as Barclays' outgoing finance director Naguib Kheraj did argue yesterday - that it is no bad thing to pick a finance director who already knows the company inside out.

You can also argue that this is an unfortunate precedent to be set by a company of Barclays' standing. It opens the possibility that directors of a less scrupulous outfit may take their auditor aside and say something like "There's a good chap, don't come down too heavy on us over this. You never know, we could be looking for a new finance director in a couple of years' time".

More than ever, now that auditors rely formally on information given them by the directors, their independence needs to be above suspicion. Is two years really enough?

The arcane difference between measures of inflation has become critical to the Bank of England's interest rate decision next month. The consumer prices index, which Gordon Brown made the basis for the Bank's two per cent inflation target, fell last month. If tumbling oil prices since August are already checking inflation, surely there is no need for higher interest rates.

Unhappily, according to the old retail prices index inflation went up, not down, in September. At 3.6 per cent, you have to go back to 1998 to find prices rising faster. True, that is because the RPI takes in mortgage interest - pushed up by the Bank's own increase in August - and the CPI leaves it out.

Regardless of these statistical niceties, Most pay negotiators still use the RPI as their benchmark - as does the Government for the state pension. The Bank has repeatedly aired its worry that a one-off upward blip in inflation caused by oil and other energy costs, could be turned into a spiral by a generous pay round this winter.

Yesterday's numbers will make the Bank more wary, not less. You have been warned.