We have audited the financial statements which comprise the consolidated profit and loss account, the consolidated balance sheet, the consolidated cash flow statement, the statement of total recognised gains and losses, the reconciliation of movements in equity shareholders' funds and the related notes. We have also audited the disclosures required by Part 3 of Schedule 7A to the Companies Act 1985, contained in the report on directors' remuneration (the 'auditable part').
The directors' responsibilities for preparing the annual report and the financial statements in accordance with applicable United Kingdom law and accounting standards are set out in the statement of directors' responsibilities. The directors are also responsible for preparing the report on directors' remuneration.
Our responsibility is to audit the financial statements and the auditable part of the report on directors' remuneration in accordance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements and United Kingdom Auditing Standards issued by the Auditing Practices Board. This report, including the opinion, has been prepared for and only for the company's members as a body in accordance with section 235 of the Companies Act 1985 and for no other purpose. We do not, in giving this opinion, accept or assume responsibility for any other purpose or to any other person to whom this report is shown or into whose hands it may come save where expressly agreed by our prior consent in writing.
We report to you our opinion as to whether the financial statements give a true and fair view and whether the financial statements and the auditable part of the report on directors' remuneration have been properly prepared in accordance with the Companies Act 1985. We also report to you if, in our opinion, the Directors' Report is not consistent with the financial statements, if the company has not kept proper accounting records, if we have not received all the information and explanations we require for our audit, or if information specified by law regarding directors' remuneration and transactions is not disclosed.
We read the other information contained in the governance and financial statements 2004 and consider the implications for our report if we become aware of any apparent misstatements or material inconsistencies with the financial statements. The other information comprises only the operating and financial review, the financial review, the Directors' Report and the unaudited part of the report on directors' remuneration.
We review whether the corporate governance statement reflects the Group's compliance with the nine provisions of the 2003 FRC Combined Code specified for our review by the Listing Rules of the Financial Services Authority, and we report if it does not. We are not required to consider whether the board's statements on internal control cover all risks and controls, or to form an opinion on the effectiveness of the Group's corporate governance procedures or its risk and control procedures.
We conducted our audit in accordance with auditing standards issued by the Auditing Practices Board. An audit includes examination, on a test basis, of evidence relevant to the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements and the auditable part of the report on directors' remuneration. It also includes an assessment of the significant estimates and judgements made by the directors in the preparation of the financial statements and of whether the accounting policies are appropriate to the Group's circumstances, consistently applied and adequately disclosed.
We planned and performed our audit so as to obtain all the information and explanations which we considered necessary in order to provide us with sufficient evidence to give reasonable assurance that the financial statements and the auditable part of the report on directors' remuneration are free from material misstatement, whether caused by fraud or other irregularity or error. In forming our opinion we also evaluated the overall adequacy of the presentation of information in the financial statements.
Opinion - In our opinion
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors, London
27 February 2005