The emergence of a rival “energy ombudsman” threatens to unleash a fresh scandal on the retail energy market.
The privately held company behind Consumer Dispute Retail Limited, formerly known as The Retail Ombudsman, has approached the energy industry regulator Ofgem in a bid to offer a full raft of dispute resolution services to disgruntled energy consumers, putting it on a bitter collision course with the incumbent Ombudsman Services (OS) company.
It is likely to spark a public battle with OS in a forthcoming public consultation led by Ofgem.
The Retail Ombudsman had come under fierce attack from industry experts in a report, seen by The Telegraph, which claims its leadership is “clearly not compatible” with the standards required to manage private consumer information.
The group had early links with Neville Thurlbeck, the former News of the World chief reporter, who was jailed for six months over his role in the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal.
In response to the report, lawyers for the group said Mr Thurlbeck had never been a director of the company but had appeared on documents “in error”.
CDRL parted ways with the Ombudsman Association this summer after the umbrella group blocked its bid to build a wider empire by insisting each sector should be served by only one alternative dispute resolution provider. It is expected to argue that greater choice and competition will help the energy industry.