Information Technology (Serious Fraud Office)

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00 am, 17th March 1997

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement about the use of information technology in the Serious Fraud Office. [18856]

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

The Serious Fraud Office makes significant use of information technology, both to support its investigations and to present complex material at court.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

I welcome the publication today of figures recording the fourth annual reduction in crime—an historic first for this country—and congratulate Mrs. Wright on her appointment as head of the SFO. But will my hon. and learned Friend look at Mrs. Wright's comments on the sophistication of juries? Does he not believe that we should revisit the views of the Roskill report and decide that serious fraud is too serious a matter to be considered by unsophisticated jurors?

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

My hon. Friend is quite right about the crime figures. It is a great pity that we have not had more support from the Labour party for our campaign on law and order in the past five years—perhaps we shall hear a little more from it in the next few weeks. I am sure that my hon. Friend will want to join me in congratulating Mrs. Wright on her appointment as the new director. She is experienced in prosecuting and regulation, and I am sure that the House will wish her well. As for my hon. Friend's last point about jury trials, as he knows the Government are considering alternatives to jury trial in serious and complex fraud cases.