Guinness Four 'robbed of their right to silence'

The Court of Appeal was taken back to a different era when the four defendants in the Guinness trial launched a fresh attempt to clear their names.

Eleven years after the original trial of Ernest Saunders, Sir Jack Lyons, Anthony Parnes and Gerald Ronson, their lawyer Michael Beloff QC argued that the convictions were unsafe because his clients were denied a fair trial.

Their convictions for illegally rigging the stock market before Guinness's £2.6bn takeover of Distillers in 1986 sent shock waves through the City and marked a watershed in attitudes. Still a high point for the Serious Fraud Office, which brought the prosecution, the case laid bare the culture among financiers for aggressive dealing and spectacular money-making. The trial was synonymous with Thatcherism – not least because one defendant, Mr Lyons, was close to the former prime minister.

Mr Beloff said the four men would be raising several issues in the appeal. These would include the way in which they had been robbed of their right to silence because evidence they were compelled to give to Department of Trade and Industry inspectors was used against them at the trial.

A House of Lords ruling last week that the Human Rights Act could not be applied retrospectively to appeals appeared to have dealt a blow to their appeal chances but, said Mr Beloff, the Lords' decision "does not kill stone dead each and every argument". The appeal judges could still find on grounds of general fairness that the defendants had the right not to be forced to incriminate themselves.

The court will also hear new evidence that police were aware that the foreman of the jury was possibly open to accepting a bribe in return for a "not guilty" verdict. Instead of telling the defence and judge so the trial could be halted and a retrial ordered, the police chose to keep the "jury nobbling" claim secret.

The police heard of the plot to rig the trial from an informant who received a tip from a criminal friend who drank with the foreman. The respondents will contend that the plan never became reality and, besides, the foreman strenuously denies ever making such a suggestion.

During the next three weeks, the judges will hear evidence from the police officers, the foreman and others who were involved in the trial.

Mr Beloff will also maintain that the trial did not pay enough attention to acceptable City behaviour at the time. He will say that information showing that their activities were not unique was kept from the jury.

Much hinges on the appeal, not just the vindication of the four. If successful, they will strike a blow at the SFO and again raise questions about the conduct of long, complex fraud cases – their trial lasted six months. It will also lead to claims of compensation running into many millions of pounds. Mr Ronson and Mr Lyons will demand the return of fines of £5m and £3m. All four ran up substantial bills for costs. Then there is the damage caused to their reputations and careers by the convictions. Mr Lyons suffered the humiliation of being stripped of his knighthood.

In the years since the original trial, the four have enjoyed mixed success. Mr Saunders, who was jailed for five years but had his sentence halved after the Court of Appeal accepted expert advice he was suffering from early senile dementia, works as a company consultant and has assisted, among others, Carphone Warehouse. Mr Ronson is virtually rehabilitated in the City and property community he worked in before conviction, embarking on huge construction projects.

Mr Lyons, 84, lived in Florida for a time and is now in poor health. Mr Parnes, whose nickname was "the Animal" on account of his combative share-trading style, has never resumed his former career but amassed considerable wealth from his time in the City.

The accused then and now

Ernest Saunders

Five years in jail for false accounting, theft and conspiracy. Sentence halved due to pre-senile dementia. Now a company consultant

Sir Jack Lyons

Fined £3m and stripped of his knighthood. The financier, 84, has since had three heart attacks. Undergoing cancer therapy

Anthony Parnes

Given two-and-a-half years for false accounting and theft. Term reduced to 21 months on appeal. No longer active in the City

Gerald Ronson

Given 12 months in jail and a £5m fine for his part in the illegal share support operation. Has resumed his business career

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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
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?

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?