HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc12-3
26. Mr. Teddy Taylor

To ask the Attorney-General what recent representations he has received concerning the implications of the House of Fraser report for the work of the Serious Fraud Office.

The Attorney-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)

None, Sir.

Mr. Taylor

Will my right hon. and learned Friend consider publishing a simple guide for business men? There is a certain amount of confusion in the business community that the Al-Fayeds, despite having been accused in the House of Fraser report of repeatedly lying, deceiving and defrauding, retain a banking licence as well as their positions as company directors. Is not this the kind of injustice that simply will not go away?

The Attorney-General

I greatly sympathise with my hon. Friend in his desire for simple guides. If I were in the business of publishing guides, I should hope, without too much confidence that I could make them simple. The code for Crown prosecutors is the only guide for which I am responsible. That code establishes that before criminal proceedings are brought, there must be a reasonable prospect of a conviction. Criminal proceedings have to be based on evidence that is admissible in criminal courts, as distinct from evidence such as is available to Department of Trade and Industry inspectors. The spectrum for a criminal court is more narrow. As for the Banking Acts, the Bank of England is the regulating authority. There is nothing that I can say about that. With regard to the disqualification of directors, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), when he was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, decided not to operate the sanctions under section 8 and disqualify. That decision is now the subject of judicial review proceedings and is therefore sub judice.