Fraud fines urged to avert complex trials
The report, which was produced after widespread criticism of the way recent fraud cases - such as Blue Arrow and the second Guinness hearing - have been handled, recommended moves to make trials more readily understandable to jurors.
However, it dismissed calls for juries to be replaced by a tribunal. Despite the complexity of serious fraud trials, the report says: 'Experience has shown that juries have generally returned verdicts which are both sensible and just, and that they are particularly good at distinguishing between conduct which is criminally dishonest and that which is merely irregular or foolish.'
Juries, according to the report, remain 'an important constitutional safeguard', ensuring that trials are not 'wholly determined by the executive and/or the judiciary'.
Yet steps are needed to make serious fraud trials shorter, cheaper and more manageable, according to Jeremy Roberts QC, who chaired the working party responsible for the report. Yesterday, he said that where a fraud offence was unlikely to warrant a prison sentence, prosecuting authorities should be given the option of fining defendants instead of bringing criminal charges.
In addition, charges could be avoided in some cases where self- regulatory bodies impose disciplinary measures.
These recommendations are certain to lead to accusations that the rich beneficiaries of fraud would escape prosecution while poor defendants in other cases would be charged. But Mr Roberts said: 'It might well be the most effective way, in many cases, of obtaining recompense for the victims of potential (fraud)'.
The working group also called for the introduction of plea-bargaining, whereby defendants would be told by the judge what sentence they could expect if they admitted their guilt.
Only judges able to deal with complex issues thrown up by fraud should be selected to oversee the cases, Mr Roberts said. His colleague, Dorian Lovell-Pank, said: 'You have got to have the right judge who can deal with difficult defendants and sometimes turbulent counsel.'
However, both men rejected the idea of specialist fraud judges, with Mr Roberts saying: 'An unmixed diet of fraud would be enough to finish anyone off.'
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: 'These are completely fake' say singer's representatives
A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Israel to appropriate 400 hectares in West Bank for ‘state use’
Kate Upton nude pictures leak: Model's representatives 'looking into' authenticity of naked images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...