ACCA is locked in an internet row with its most prominent critic over the right of candidates in its council elections to use websites to promote their campaign.
Essex university professor Prem Sikka has been told that he cannot include his website address in the 180-word election statement which each candidate is allowed. ACCA head of secretariat Michael Sleigh told him that the website link would allow him to get round the 180 word limit.
The row erupted in the week ACCA launched ACCANet, its new online service for members. Sikka said it was 'ironic' that ACCA was seeking to prevent him form using the internet while encouraging more members to go online.
ACCA's stance is likely to start a debate about the impact of the internet on the normally highly controlled world of professional body elections. Officials insist that allowing candidates to use their own websites to promote their election campaigns would be unfair to those who do not have websites.
'If at some stage in the future all candidates have their own websites we will include them. But at the moment we are determined to ensure fairness between candidates,' said a spokesman.
Sikka's website, operated in the name of his Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs, contains strongly worded criticisms of ACCA and has been described by senior ACCA sources as 'highly defamatory'.
In a letter to Sikka, Sleigh warned that the website address would be deleted and insisted that the ACCA council had endorsed the policy of not allowing website urls in election addresses.
Sikka said he would refuse to withdraw the website address adding: 'The ball is now in their court. If they tamper with the election statement of a candidate it will be a black mark on their democratic record.'
One third of the ACCA council seats are being contested this year. Election addresses will be mailed to ACCA's 72,000 qualified members by the end of this month and the result will be announced at its AGM on 4 May.