Insider dealing case `should not be retried'

A judge said that it would be wrong to retry a former director of Eastern Electricity on insider dealing charges following the failure yesterday by the jury in the case to reach a verdict. The jury deliberated for almost eight hours.

The decision on whether to pursue the case and apply for a retrial of Dr Douglas Swinden ultimately rests with Ian Lang, Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry. "We are considering our position," a spokesman for the DTI said yesterday. A decision is expected within the week.

Legal sources said it would be usual for the case of Dr Swinden to be tried again, but the trial judge, Mr Justice Mitchell, indicated he did not think a retrial would be necessary.

"I would like to place on the record my feelings, for what they are worth. But I do feel it would be wrong to proceed with the matter," the judge said at Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London.

Separately, it emerged yesterday that in the wake of this setback the DTI had secured a conviction in another insider trading case, the first this year.

The DTI confirmed that Geoffrey Atkinson and John Hawksby were found guilty on 1 November in a case involving dealings in shares in Queens Moat Houses. The two men are due to be sentenced tomorrow.

In the case of Dr Swinden, the DTI alleged that he bought shares in Seeboard, another regional electricity company, before the release of a price-sensitive and confidential report by Professor Stephen Littlechild, the industry regulator.

Dr Swinden had bought 2,000 Seeboard shares at 350p each between 24 June and 1 August 1994 out of a pounds 15,000 bonus he had received from Eastern, where he was director for strategy.

Seeboard shares rose 100p in a month after the report by Professor Littlechild was published.

Speaking after the trial of Dr Swinden had ended inconclusively, the judge said: "There were very unusual circumstances in the case." They included evidence of the company secretary of Eastern, who told Dr Swinden, when asked, that he did not believe the information was unpublished and price sensitive and therefore he could see no reason prohibiting Dr Swinden from buying shares in another company.

The two charges faced by Dr Swinden were the first brought under the Criminal Justice Act 1993 which gave the DTI greater powers in insider dealing cases.

Clare Montgomery QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "Dr Swinden was in a privileged position compared with anyone who was thinking about buying shares. He knew there was good news around the corner and bought those shares when he should not have."

Professor Littlechild wrote to the directors of the 12 regional electricity companies on 24 June 1994, giving proposals for price controls. He made them public on 11 August.

"The professor was proposing a better deal for the companies. This was a considerable improvement upon changes which had caused the Stock Exchange shock with the effect that millions of pounds was wiped off the value of the shares," Ms Montgomery said.

"The information Dr Swinden had was not in the public domain. The public did not have copies of the letter that he had been given."

Dr Swinden denied using price-sensitive information and said there was no indication whether share prices would rise or not as a result of the regulator's announcement.

David Kirk of Simons, Muirhead and Burton, representing Dr Swinden, declined to comment yesterday.

Comment, page 21

The DTI's 10-year record

Insider dealing convictions

1996 Geoffrey Atkinson and John Hawksby awaiting sentence this week. Convicted on 1 November of dealing in Queens Moat Houses shares.

1995 Brian Ridge fined pounds 1,300 and costs for dealing in London Scottish Bank and Park Ford Gp.

1994 Ian Morrissey and Lorelie Staines each fined pounds 1,500, dealing in Aaronson Bros.

1993 No convictions

1992 David Gray, 6 months suspended for 2 years, fined pounds 5,000 and pounds 500 costs, trading in Pleasurama. Three other people's convictions in the same case overturned on appeal in 1994.

1991 Frederick Stebbing fined pounds 5000 and pounds 500 costs, and Peter Sewell pounds 24,000 and pounds 5,000 costs, for trading in Camotech.

Ivor Goodman 18 months imprisonment, 9 months suspended, disqualified for 10 years as director, for trading in Unigroup shares

1990 John Henry Lukins fined pounds 750 and pounds 432 costs, Peter Bernard Lukins fined pounds 500 and pounds 290 costs, trading in shares of Pittard Garner.

Malcolm Gooding 120 hours community service, pounds 500 costs, trading in Hawtal Whiting

1989 Nicholas Rushbrooke fined pounds 2,000 and pounds 750 costs, trading in Piccadilly Radio

Keith Robinson fined pounds 1000 and pounds 500 costs, trading in Mercantile House Holdings

John Hales fined pounds 15,000, pounds 1,000 costs, trading in Minet Holdings

1988 William Reardon-Smith fined pounds 3,000, pounds 2,000 costs, trading in Reardon- Smith Line

1987 Ronald Jenkins fined pounds 10,000, pounds 2,000 costs, trading in Steel Brothers and British & Commonwealth.

Geoffrey Collier, 12 months sentence suspended for two years, pounds 25,000 fine and pounds 7,000 costs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones