HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 c16
32. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Attorney-General in what proportion of cases in the past 12 months the Serious Fraud Office achieved the conviction of the principal offender named in the indictment.[1888]

The Solicitor-General (Sir Derek Spencer)

The principal offender named in the indictment was convicted in 89 per cent. of the cases prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office in the past 12 months.

Mr. Rowe

That is something of a reassuring surprise given the media coverage of the Serious Fraud Office. Will my hon. and learned Friend consider passing on congratulations to the SFO on the outcome of the latest Guinness appeal? Will he tell the House what more can be done to give the SFO a more justified reputation in the media?

The Solicitor-General

The answer to my hon. Friend's second question is that that will happen only if people tell the truth about the SFO's record instead of spreading half truths and selective truths. The SFO has an extremely good record. Since it started its work, it has obtained convictions in 62 per cent. of all cases that by definition were serious and complex. In at least 75 per cent. of the trials in which it has been involved, one defendant—usually the principal defendant—has been convicted.

Mr. MacShane

The Serious Fraud Office can now rest easy that Nick Leeson will spend six-and-a-half years in some rat-infested malaria hole in Changi prison. Is the Solicitor-General able to assure us that, if the Singapore authorities applied for the extradition of Mr. Peter Norris and others who were responsible for the Barings cover-up in London, the Government would put no obstacles in the path of such an application?

The Solicitor-General

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman seems to be carrying a brief for Mr. Leeson. Most people would compliment the SFO's director in the attitude he took, which enabled Mr. Leeson to be brought to justice in the most appropriate jurisdiction.

The investigation of the position of senior Barings executives continues. It is an operational matter for the SFO. It is not in the interests of justice that I say anything more about it in public now.