View from City Road: Small consolation for the DTI

So they managed to get Tom Ward, the American lawyer at the centre of the Guinness affair, after all - well, nearly anyway. Having failed to secure any kind of conviction over his role in the Guinness scandal, the DTI has managed to get him sentenced in absentia to six months' imprisonment for refusing to answer the questions of DTI inspectors.

The irony is that had he co-operated, as everyone else in the Guinness affair did, the SFO might have had more chance of securing a custodial sentence on the original charges. DTI Companies Act investigations remove a suspect's right of silence and his protection against self-incrimination.

Without 'confessions' secured by inspectors, Ernest Saunders, Gerald Ronson, Tony Parnes and Jack Lyons might have got off. Ward, beyond the DTI's reach in the US, realised this and refused contact. It is some consolation to the authorities that they managed to hit target on his silence, even if he is not around to serve time.

It seems doubtful he will return to pursue his High Court action against Guinness, which presumably was never any more than a bad joke in any case. Having so brazenly infringed our laws and regulations, it will be no bad thing if Mr Ward never sets foot here again.

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