Serious Fraud Office appoints SFA director to succeed Staple

Rosalind Wright to take over at 'beleaguered' SFO after its high-profil e difficulties

Rosalind Wright, the new director designate of the Serious Fraud Office, yesterday pledged to examine suggestions for using the civil law to tackle white collar crime and to seek ways of cutting the length of fraud trials.

Speaking after the Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, named her as the pounds 108,192 a year successor to the outgoing SFO director George Staple, Mrs Wright said the proposal for calling alleged fraudsters to account in the civil courts - where there is a lower burden of proof and no jury - was already under consideration.

Mrs Wright said she had begun to examine the issue at the Securities and Futures Authority, of which she is currently general counsel and an executive director. "It is something I had hoped to develop further," she said.

"We think this is probably the way things are moving," she said, adding that she would look at American experience of using civil measures "with great interest".

"Beleaguered" is how the SFO has come to be widely described in the wake of its more high-profile difficulties, culminating in the ruling out of a second Maxwell trial last year.

Mrs Wright, a 54-year-old barrister and mother of three grown-up children, will have an initial five-year contract to build on an already reasonable (though little noticed) conviction rate in the lower-profile cases whilst seeking to avoid more public relations disasters.

She has built up senior experience in an official organisation. Mrs Wright was formerly head of Prosecutions at the SFA, and between 1983 and 1987 was the head of the fraud investigation group in the Director of Public Prosecutions Department, the SFO's effective predecessor before its creation in 1988. Mr Staple had been a senior litigation partner with a City law firm before he joined the SFO in 1992.

As general counsel to the Securities and Futures Authority, she has been giving legal advice and analysis internally and externally, and as executive director she has devised and developed SFA [note SFA here] strategy and policy with an emphasis on enforcement.

A product of St Paul's Girls' School and University College London, she practised as a barrister in the chambers of Morris Finer QC before joining public service.

No one was predicting yesterday that life will be anything other than difficult when she takes over her new role on 21 April. A string of disappointments followed the early euphoria of the conviction of Ernest Saunders and the other Guinness One defendants in 1990 - an achievement itself dented by Saunders' successful European Court of Human Rights claim earlier this year that he was denied a fair trial.

While the BCCI trials undoubtedly counted as big successes, the Guinness II and IV trials and the outcomes in Blue Arrow, Brent Walker, Roger Levitt and Maxwell I spelt failure in the public consciousness. Mr Justice Buckley put a stop to Maxwell II in forceful and pointed terms.

Mrs Wright, whose appointment had to be approved by Labour because of proximity to the election, said it was too early for a "mission statement" about her leadership of the agency. But she urged the public to have confidence in a system that had achieved a 63 per cent conviction rate since it began operations in April 1988. Of a total of 349 defendants, 219 have been convicted. At least one defendant, usually the principal offender, was convicted in 75 per cent of cases brought.

A number of convictions result from guilty pleas, however, sometimes following the acceptance of pleas to lesser charges than originally alleged. Mrs Wright will not want to preside over a repeat of the Roger Levitt affair where the defendant ended up with a token sentence.

Staple's five-year record

Appointed, April 1992

Retiring, April 1997

83 prosecutions brought

186 individuals tried

115 convictions

71 acquittals

62 per cent success rate

Biggest successes: Polly Peck, BCCI

Biggest failures: Maxwell, Guinness II, Guinness IV, Brent Walker, Blue Arrow, Roger Levitt (convicted but not jailed)

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manchester, £18k

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HRO - £70k+ ote

£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...

Citifocus Ltd: Newly Qualified Accountants - Risk Mgmt

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...

Citifocus Ltd: Operational Risk Analyst

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?