Magazine article The Spectator

Sentenced to Months of Hard Labour, Fraud Juries Empathise with Men in the Dock

Magazine article The Spectator

Sentenced to Months of Hard Labour, Fraud Juries Empathise with Men in the Dock

Article excerpt

CITY AND SUBURBAN

The charge of fraud at the Royal Mail Line led to a sensational trial, and Sir Patrick Hastings was briefed for the defence. It seemed that the company's published accounts might have told the truth but stopped some way short of the whole truth. When the jury retired, Sir Patrick's clerk fielded a telephone call from his client's wife: was her husband, she wanted to know, likely to be late for dinner? `Yes, madam,' the clerk told her, `about seven years late.' That proved pessimistic: the jury acquitted. Now another fraud trial has reached the same ending. At Wickes, the do-it-yourself chain, the chairman and two of his senior managers were charged with fraudulent trading and false accounting, their trial ran on for ten months, and this week the jury lost no time in finding that they did not do it themselves. …

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