AABA has long campaigned against the ACCA's Code of  Practice because it violated people's human rights.

ACCA officials violate the Human Rights Act 1998 (8 February 1999)

Under pressure from critics, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), the Home Office and the Privy Council Office, ACCA has been forced to change its ‘Code of Practice’ for council members.

Since 1995, ACCA had many  opportunities to revise its Code, but in a show of macho power, it turned deaf ear. The cost of this deafness is probably more than £200,000 and the cost has been borne by ACCA members.

ACCA hierarchy has got used to silencing ‘critical’ voices. When Professor Prem Sikka raised questions about ACCA electoral practices, ACCA chief executive exerted pressure on his employers. When Professor Sikka organised an EGM to make the leadership accountable, ACCA leadership organised a media campaign against him (see Certified Accountant, July, August September 1996). It would not give him a 'right to reply'.

ACCA chief executive has prepared voluminous notes on how to silence Sikka. Other strategies have included premature closing of AGMs to prevent him raising questions at AGMs and failure to provide answers to the questions. ACCA officials have also been busy mobilising negative press publicity and issuing press releases to celebrate Sikka’s failure to get elected to ACCA Council. Such a press release has not been issued to celebrate the non-election of any other person.

As part of its strategy of silencing Sikka, ACCA concocted a ‘Code of Practice for Council Members. However, it tried to hoist it upon individuals who were not even members of ACCA Council. It asked Sikka, who was a candidate for council elections, to sign it. He refused. So ACCA engaged in its usual hate campaign and its annual reports mentioned that Sikka had refused to abide by the Code, a Code that had not been approved by members.

The Code, Sikka argued, violated his human rights. It gagged critics and required that council members must

The above, we argued, are a direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has now been incorporated in the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998. Undeterred. The ACCA still tried to get Sikka, who was an election candidate in 2000, to sign its Code of Practice. He refused and ACCA once again publicised his refusal, as a way of mobilising negative publicity, in the 1999 annual accounts. As usual, the ACCA leadership failed to reflect upon its policies. It now put forward a resolution at the 2000 AGM, making it mandatory for the council election candidate to sign the Code. The threat was that unless the candidates capitulate, they will not be permitted to stand for elections. Most ACCA members did not take the trouble to read and understand the Code. The majority of those who voted supported the Code. This hardly raises their credentials as thinking persons.

The ACCA management inspired AGM resolution also presented an opportunity to mobilise opposition to ACCA’s policies. The normal process is that for any rule change to be incorporated in the ACCA bye-laws, the approval of Privy Council is needed.

Critics subsequently mobilised MPs, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), the Home Office and the Privy Council to look at ACCA’s  practices. The Privy Council approved ACCA’s  Code of Practice but the above paragraphs had to be deleted. The Code of Practice circulated with the 2000 annual accounts now states that individual ACCA council members must:

The above requirements are still unsatisfactory and will be challenged. For example, on numerous occasions the interests of ACCA are incompatible with “the public interest” and the conscience of the persons concerned.

The Code was originally drafted in 1995 after securing some (unpublished) legal opinions. The original cost is estimated to be £100,000. After pressure from external sources, further legal advice was sought. This is estimated to have cost a further £100,000. The 2000 annual accounts do not contain any disclosures. ACCA’s leadership has offered no explanation of the unilateral changes to Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice now being hoisted upon current and potential council members is markedly different from the one approved by ACCA members. Why are the election candidates being asked to sign a Code that is not identical to the one approved by ACCA members?

ACCA members have to ask why the leadership holds such contempt for human rights.