MPs may question Levitt case QCs

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The Independent Online
In a highly unusual development, MPs are likely to call David Cocks, the QC who prosecuted Roger Levitt, the failed investment adviser, to give evidence before a select committee. "It would be unprecedented for a Crown prosecutor to be called to provide clarification on answers to Parliament about a case he conducted," said Mike O'Brien, Labour MP for Warwickshire North and member of the Treasury select committee.

The committee is preparing evidence for the recalling of George Staple, director of the Serious Fraud Office, on 11 July to explain why he misled MPs at his first appearance last week. Prompted by detailed revelations in the Independent, the Treasury select committee is re-opening the national controversy surrounding the unexpectedly lenient sentence handed down in 1993 to Mr Levitt.

Lawyers for Mr Levitt, who are also expected to give evidence to the committee, have claimed that answers to Parliament by Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, did not accurately reflect the reality of substantial plea-bargaining leading up to Mr Levitt's sentence, and SFO authorisation for a final deal on a single, minor charge that made it most unlikely that he would go to prison.

In a letter apologising to MPs for having failed in his evidence to provide an accurate account of the SFO's role in events prior to the sentence, Mr Staple has admitted giving authority for plea-bargaining. Mr Levitt was eventually sentenced to 180 hours' community service instead of the lengthy jail sentence most observers had expected.