James Forsyth

Corporate criminals should be brought to book

Corporate criminals should be brought to book
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There’s much I disagree with in Ken Macdonald’s piece in The Times today but he is right that the authorities’ attitude to corporate crime is disgracefully lax. As Macdonald writes:

“In Britain, no one has any confidence that fraud in the banks will be prosecuted as crime. But it is absolutely critical to public confidence that it should be. If there was fraud in RBS or in any of the other failed banking institutions, if there was fraudulent misselling or corruption or any other criminal activity, it needs to be uncovered and dealt with. The alternative is the worst possible lesson for our national life.

Do people believe this will happen? No, they don't - and that is a damning and corrosive conclusion, encouraging deep cynicism towards our national institutions. For all the fashionable talk of rebalancing criminal justice in favour of victims, for all the talk of community engagement and targeting offenders, this is the acid test.”

David Cameron’s call  for a thorough investigation into whether there were any illegal activities going on in the City was a welcome sign that the Tories will usher in a tougher regime. Before anyone says it, there is nothing anti-business or anti-market about wanting to see corporate crime prosecuted. Those of us who believe in markets should be particularly keen to see those who abuse markets brought to book. While the idea that if a crime is sufficiently complex it won’t be prosecuted is morally wrong.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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