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
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
newsTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone