One Tory donor fraud trial = 26,666 benefit cases Aug 20, 2012 21:00:17 GMT 1
Post by nickd on Aug 20, 2012 21:00:17 GMT 1
Tory donor fraudster convicted after £4 million fraud trial
Asil Nadir was legally aided; his trial would have paid for 26,666 benefit appeal claimants to get help
Nadir returned to London in 2010, saying he wanted to face trial and clear his reputation. A jury has found Turkish Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir guilty of theft in relation to the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire. The spectacular implosion of the once-successful Polly Peck was 1980s boom-and-bust story which embarrassed the ruling Conservative Party, to which he was a major donor. It also made him a fugitive from British authorities after he skipped the country in 1993. Nadir returned to London in 2010, saying he wanted to face trial and clear his reputation. A jury at London's Central Criminal Court today found him guilty of three counts of theft and not guilty of a fourth count. The jury is still out and due to return verdicts on 9 more charges tomorrow. The case finally went before a jury in January, with the businessman facing 13 specimen charges relating to the disappearance of £33.1m and US$2.5m - though prosecutors maintain his total haul was around £146m.
The Guardian reported this case back in August 2010 saying the trial costs could reach £4 million in a trial which would last 'months'. In the eventuality that Nadir ended up being convicted they also reported that the Tory party would need to pay back a £440,000 donation which Nadir had paid to them. Surprisingly the one time Tycoon received legal aid to cover some of the costs of his defence; unsurprisingly when asked about how much the costs amount to the Ministry of Justice has remained tight lipped. No one is suggesting people facing prosecution should not get legal aid but serious questions need to be asked when Nadir appeared to be able to get it whilst making £20,000 a month rental payments for a flat in Mayfair. How is it that we allow people like Nadir to continue to lead lavish lifestyles whilst remaining entitled to Legal Aid, surely we should be questioning this?
Nadir's legal costs have been covered by Mylegal before, in a previous article we highlighted how the Bar Council disagreed with wealthy defendants getting Legal Aid. Here's what they had to say:
"In our view, it is nothing short of scandalous that wealthy defendants continue to receive legal aid, often for lengthy, complex and costly cases, at a time when the justice budget is under such strain."
"At present, criminal defendants are unable to access these funds, so legal aid has to fund their defence to the criminal charges. An order may, however, be made for the funds to be unfrozen to pay their children’s private school fees."
It seems extraordinary, in the recent legal aid cutbacks, the Ministry of Justice chose to savagely abolish the majority of 'social welfare' legal aid which is by comparison far cheaper than costly criminal trials such as Nadir's. Why do these fraud trials drag on and on for months at huge cost to the tax payer? Surely something needs to be done about cutting back on expensive trials like this? Perhaps we need to look at why the Trial costs are so inflated. Is it because lawyers and barristers are having to explain inherently complicated matters of fraud to juries who have little prospect of being able to take it all in?
Perhaps we should look at unlocking the assets of a criminal defendant who has had them frozen? The unlocked funds could then be used to meet legal costs instead of Legal Aid. It doesn't surprise me that one time criminal barrister Ken Clarke announces no cut backs in these hugely expensive trials. This isn't a pop at hard working criminal lawyers who struggle on Legal Aid fees, it is a question mark which I'm putting against the whole criminal justice system. How much did the Jury cost including the economic cost of taking time off work? The Judge? expert witnesses? The cost of all the pre-trial preparation? Court time? Surely we should be told the final cost?
People like Nadir make their cash out of gambling with other people's money in the world of finance & commerce; when it all goes wrong and needs sorting out they again turn to the likes of you and I to foot the bill for their mistakes. Why isn't the world of high flying financiers expected to pay into a common fund out of which the costs of this kind of trial could be met? Wouldn't that help regulate them in their behavioural traits especially if out of that same fund came their huge bonus payments?
Whatever the answer it cannot be right to burden us all with the £4 million cost of this trial.
Especially when it could have been used to pay for 26, 666 social welfare law cases at just £150 a case.