Salisbury Incident

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:42 pm on 12th September 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 1:42 pm, 12th September 2018

Tempting as my hon. Friend’s suggestion is, vilifying people who carry out the role of defending plaintiffs is not how we do business in this country. We are not Russia. Reputation is clearly important to some of those companies, and no doubt they will bear that in mind. However, everyone has a right to a defence. It is up to us to make sure that the law is in the right place to deal with this.

I fully expect that in some of these cases we will be successful, while in others we will probably try but not be successful. That is partly because of the myriad facilitators, shell companies, foreign jurisdictions and corrupt jurisdictions that this money comes through. One challenge is that in some cases the money is already cleaned when it comes here. It is not being washed here; it is cleaned, has come into the system, and has bought nice houses and everything else. That is why we squeeze at one end with the unexplained wealth orders and the asset-cleaning orders, which have also been used quite successfully recently, and then, at the other end, we have better regulation through the use of the suspicious activity reports regime. That regime has, for far too long, been in need of reform to make sure that people are making those reports when they see suspicious activities. I see some horrendous stories where people have handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and people have not thought that it is remotely suspicious, so have not made any report. People have bought houses with cash, and somehow some estate agents have not thought that that is remotely suspicious. There is an obligation—a legal obligation—on them to report these issues. Funnily enough, when we follow up on those cash purchases, they are, more often than not, a dodgy purchase.