The finance director of newspaper publisher Birmingham Post & Mail has left the company during an investigation over accounting irregularities found in circulation figures. Carolyn Payne left last week as the Audit Bureau of Circulation suspended all figures for three Birmingham titles, all owned by publisher Trinity Mirror, and launched a full investigation. Assistant managing director (operations) Roy Mander joined Payne in leaving. No explanation has been given. The irregularities concern inflated sales of the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Evening Mail and Sunday Mercury by up to 17% during periods when Price Waterhouse, and subsequently PwC, was the auditor. The ABC relies heavily on independent audits for its figures. Auditors are chosen by the company but have a duty of care to the bureau. Following the acquisition of Mirror Group by Trinity, its auditor, Deloitte & Touche, retained the audit contract at the expense of PwC which was employed by Mirror Group to undertake financial and sales audits. Trinity Mirror has been forced to provide around £20m for possible claims by advertisers who feel disadvantaged by the overstated circulation.
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