HC Deb 23 March 1937 vol 321 cc2735-7
36. Mr. Johnston

asked the Lord Advocate whether he is aware that a man called Arthur Lipetz was arrested in Edinburgh in February, 1935, for alleged directory frauds; that he was not tried until December, 1936, and that an appeal to the High Court of Justiciary against the verdict at that latter date is not yet heard; and whether in the public interest, he can take any steps to have more expeditious hearings in similar cases?

The Lord Advocate (Mr. T. M. Cooper)

As the answer is a long one and contains a number of dates and figures I propose, with the right hon. Gentleman's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Johnston

As this is the second case of long delay in trial for financial fraud, has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that there are no others?

The Lord Advocate

Yes, Sir. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the reply when it appears in the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will see that the suggestion in the latter part of his question is without foundation so far as this case is concerned.

Mr. Johnston

Is it not a fact that the dates stated in the question are approximately true?

The Lord Advocate

I think the right hon. Gentleman had better wait for the reply. The answer shows that on the first date mentioned in the question only one or two charges were made against this person, but subsequently something like 298 additional charges emerged.

Following is the answer:

Arthur Lipetz was originally arrested in February, 1935, on two isolated charges of alleged fraud, and he was then released on bail. Inquiries disclosed that the fraudulent operations of which these charges were an example extended to practically every part of Scotland, including Shetland and the Western Isles, and that a number of other persons were implicated with the result that investigations of a very complex and difficult character had to be instituted. As a result of these inquiries, further charges arising out of the same subject matter were made, in June and July, 1935, and in January and July, 1936, by which date the number of separate charges had increased to approximately 300. Arthur Lipetz and six other persons were brought to trial on 14th December, 1936, on an Indictment supported by 134 witnesses and 722 productions, and after a trial which lasted till 21st December all the accused were convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Arthur Lipetz then appealed against the conviction and at his instance the hearing had to be adjourned to enable an additional ground of appeal raised by him to be investigated. The appeal, however, has now been abandoned. Having regard to the wholly exceptional circumstances of this abnormal prosecution, I do not consider that any action is necessary or possible to meet the suggestion contained in the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's question.