Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson was under intense pressure today to order a full-blown DTI inquiry into MG Rover, after an initial investigation raised questions about its finances.
The Financial Reporting Council, which has been looking into Rover's accounts, presented its findings to Mr Johnson yesterday but confirmed that the report will not be made public.
However, The Birmingham Post has learned that union leaders demanded a public inquiry into the carmaker's collapse when they met Mr Johnson as he visited the West Midlands on Wednesday.
Officials from Amicus, the Transport & General Workers Union and GMB, representing workers at MG Rover's Longbridge plant, were present at the hour-long meeting.
They said they had no objection to the initial report remaining confidential as long as it was followed by a highlevel DTI investigation, which would present its findings in public.
The unions want Mr Johnson to order an inquiry under section 432 of the Companies Act 1985, which gives inspectors wide-ranging powers.
He can do this if he suspects there has been fraud or misconduct in the management of MG Rover.
Previous investigations, under section 432, have looked into the collapse of Robert Maxwell's business empire, and the take-over battle between Guinness and the Argyll Group.
The unions were backed by MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), whose constituency includes Longbridge.
He said: "I would endorse the call for any inquiry which is going to establish the facts, and make those facts public."
Last night Mr Johnson was studying the report.
It was produced by the Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP), an arm of the Financial Reporting Council, the official City watchdog.
The panel was asked to look into MG Rover's affairs by the Government in April, following criticism of the firm's parent company, Phoenix Venture Holdings.
Workers had expressed anger over the estimated £40 million in pay and pensions awarded to Phoenix directors.
In a statement, the Financial Reporting Council said: "The FRRP report does raise a number of questions relating to the affairs of MG Rover and its associated companies which the FRRP believes may be relevant for the DTI to consider."
Meanwhile, the four Phoenix directors have been ordered by the High Court to make a minimum £1.7 million down-payment towards MG Rover's beleaguered pension scheme. But the overall figure owed by chairman John Towers and his three business partners could rise higher, to cover a £400 million black hole in the fund.
Phoenix Venture Holdings (PVH) has been given nine days to come up with the money as security while a final settlement figure is worked out.
Without their payment, two of the company's pension schemes, which cover 6,500 people, cannot receive compensation from the Government's Pension Protection Fund.
The £1.7 million, which must be paid by June 3, has been described as "very much a minimum payment, by Chris Martin, managing director of Independent Trustee Services, which is administering the pension funds.