City Fraud

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th February 1991.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 4th February 1991

To ask the Attorney-General whether he has any plans to meet the director of the Serious Fraud Office to discuss City fraud; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I expect to meet the director again shortly to discuss matters of departmental interest.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

At those meetings with the director, does the Attorney-General raise with him the question of the £600 million fiddle at Harrods? Do they discuss the ways and means of how to resolve the matter, or do they say, "Well, we will give it a nod and a wink and reckon it has not happened", because some of the participants were too close to the Tory Government? If they do not deal with that, what will the Attorney-General do about the recent report on Blue Arrow which suggests that action should be taken against the executive and non-executive directors of that firm? What action will he take—or do the Government want to concentrate on the working-class people who might be caught with a bit of social security fraud at £15 a week? Are those the double standards in which the Attorney-General believes?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

It may not make much difference to the hon. Gentleman, but when I consult the director I consult her, not him.

As for Blue Arrow, among the cases in which preparatory hearings are already in progress is that of County NatWest, which embraces the other matter. The hon. Gentleman should perhaps give credit to the fact that, since its inception, the Serious Fraud Office has prosecuted 43 cases and 95 defendants, of whom 60 have been convicted.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Are they all in open prisons? The Kuwaiti royal family—

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

We all know that the hon. Gentleman is tortured by self-doubt, but I am afraid that I must continue to intrude on his soliloquy.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

"To Beast or not to Beast" is the hon. Gentleman's question; my question is the one that he originally asked, and I am answering it.

Decisions about whether to prosecute are made on the basis of the code for Crown prosecutors, which has been scrutinised by Parliament and which takes no account whatever of the partisan considerations that the hon. Gentleman has at the very heart and core of his being.