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Jubilee Line Case Review

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service on the Jubilee Line case.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made a statement in another place yesterday. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made a statement in another place yesterday. I did seek to provide opposition spokesmen with a copy of the report in good time yesterday, and to indicate that we did not intend to make an oral statement in the House, consistent with practice on some legal issues in the past. When I had an opportunity to speak to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), he said that he wanted an oral statement, and I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for agreeing to allow me to make one today.

In retrospect, I think that hon. Gentleman was right that the Attorney-General’s statement on the issue should have been repeated in this House at the same time, and I apologise to him and to the House for the fact that that was not done. In future, however legalistic they are, statements made in another place ought to be made in the House unless there is prior agreement otherwise. With minor amendments to allow for the fact that a day has elapsed, the Attorney-General’s statement reads as follows:

“On 22 March 2005 the case of Regina v Rayment and Others was terminated at the Central Criminal Court after it had been running since June 2003. The prosecution announced its decision not to oppose a defence application to discharge the jury and subsequently offered no evidence. The defendants were then acquitted.

Immediately afterwards I announced that I was referring the matter to the Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service under Section (2)(1)(b) of the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Act 2000. I asked the chief inspector: to review the circumstances surrounding the prosecution commonly known as the Jubilee Line case; to ascertain the factors leading to the decision to terminate; to consider what steps the prosecution could have taken to avoid that outcome; and to make recommendations aimed at preventing this happening again. The chief inspector’s final report was published yesterday. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report contains a detailed, but not comprehensive, analysis of the case. The constraints imposed by the remit of Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate means the report inevitably focuses on the role of the prosecution, whilst aiming to give as balanced a view as possible of what occurred. The chief inspector also requested Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to provide expert advice and analysis on the police work in this case, particularly the investigation. The work they did was used to inform the report which is published today.”

That would have been yesterday. The Attorney-General continued:

“Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary will also be publishing separately its own stand-alone report. The review team was also able to conduct individual interviews with 11 jurors in the case, and a group interview with eight of those jurors. They were assisted in this task by Professor Sally Lloyd-Bostock and Dr Cheryl Thomas of Birmingham University, who have conducted previous research into juries. This enabled the review team to obtain the benefit of the jurors’ experience, whilst at the same time ensuring a proper distance between the jurors and the inspectorate.

The report concludes that the collapse of the trial was the cumulative effect of mistakes and shortcomings by a number of agencies and individuals responsible for the case, which tested the adversarial system, as well as the jury system, beyond breaking point. The review also concludes that the decision to end the case was inevitable and correct in the light of legal authorities, having regard to the circumstances prevailing at the time. The report highlights three specific issues which it sees as having had a major contribution towards the termination of the proceedings: the decision to include count two, conspiracy to defraud London Underground Limited; the slow and disjointed nature of the proceedings; and the illness of one of the defendants.

I very much welcome the valuable and detailed analysis by the chief inspector and his team. I pay tribute to the thoroughness of their work. I note the important conclusion that the decision to terminate the case was correct.

Views may differ as to what conclusions are drawn from the analysis on, for example, whether we should always have a jury in a case of serious and complex fraud. I will return to that subject later.

My overriding purpose in establishing the review was to ensure that we have done, and continue to do, all we can to ensure that there is no repetition of the events which led to the collapse of this case, particularly so far as the prosecuting authorities are concerned.

Investigation and subsequent prosecution of this case was spread over a long period, from 1997 to 2005. Some key decisions made at an early stage had a significant impact on the future handling of the case and, with the benefit of hindsight, can be seen to have created difficulties. I accept that there is justified criticism of some aspects of the prosecution.

Because, as I have said, the review report inevitably focuses on the CPS, and I am the Minister accountable for the CPS, it is right for me to draw the House’s attention to the steps which have been taken to improve the handling of these cases within the CPS, as well as changes in the external environment. I accept the report’s conclusion that fraud work within the CPS has not always been recognised as requiring a degree of dedicated resource and expertise. That is now being rectified, with the establishment of a separate and specialist fraud prosecution division within CPS London, a move welcomed by the report.

A wider issue is that of the case management and review arrangements which were in place during the duration of the Jubilee Line case. When I was appointed Attorney-General, it became apparent to me that the arrangements for supervising lawyers who had day-to-day control of serious and complex cases, and of reviewing the quality of their decisions, were not adequate. In particular, the culture had evolved where it was believed that only a lawyer who had read all—and I mean all—the papers could take a decision on the case. The disadvantages of this approach had already been the subject of discussion between my predecessor as Attorney-General and the then DPP, now Mr Justice Calvert-Smith. I signalled a new approach in a Written Parliamentary Answer on 27 February 2003. This enabled more senior lawyers within the CPS, including the DPP, to be involved in the decision-making process, or to take decisions on the basis of detailed briefing and consideration of the key material but without having to read all the often very voluminous papers. The effect of this change would be, as I said in the Answer, to enable greater input by senior lawyers into the most critical decisions that the service faces.

In addition, and after discussion with me, the current DPP has established a system of greater review by senior management of prosecuting decisions. In particular, he has established a system of case management panels. These are held on a monthly basis and enable a panel of senior lawyers to act as a “critical friend” to the lawyers handling a case. The panels, which have been in operation since September 2005, have already proved their worth in strengthening the presentation of cases, identifying any potential weaknesses and, in some cases, shortening the predicted trial lengths. This is especially important given the report’s criticism that the Jubilee Line case was allowed to run without such senior management control. The CPS is also developing a new case management and case quality assurance system, particularly for serious and complex cases.

More widely within the criminal justice system, Ministers and the judiciary have agreed the criminal case management framework which clearly sets out the responsibilities of all those involved in trials; and the then Lord Chief Justice issued a protocol on the management of heavy and complex cases in March 2005. These developments, combined with revised disclosure protocols and my own revised guidelines to prosecutors on disclosure, combine to make a very different system from that which was in operation during the Jubilee Line trial.

The report makes 11 recommendations. They are set out in detail in the report and I will not take time repeating them. They have been considered by Government and the agencies involved. The substance of all the recommendations are accepted, save for recommendation 10, which will require further discussions between Ministers and the senior judiciary.

Earlier in my Statement I said that I would come back to the issue of jury trials for serious and complex fraud cases. We have had extensive debates in this House and in the other place about the Government’s established policy that there should be the opportunity in some serious and complex fraud cases for those trials to be heard without a jury. The Jubilee Line report concludes that the circumstances of this case were so unusual that it cannot be relied on directly to support the case either for dispensing with, or retaining, juries. It also concludes that the case was not intrinsically of such seriousness or complexity that it would necessarily have been accepted by the Serious Fraud Office as falling within its criteria for taking on cases, nor that it would necessarily have met the conditions set out in Section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

I should say that I take a different view. I am very clear that no blame for the termination of the case should fall on the shoulders of the individual jurors; rather, they are to be commended for their commitment and attention. Nevertheless, I believe the case illustrates a good deal about the challenges of presenting long and complex cases in front of a jury.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 27 June 2006; Vol. 683, c. 1096-99.]

That concludes the statement.

I thank the Solicitor-General for the statement. I fully accept his apology. He sought to keep me completely informed about the nature of the statement to be made in the other place and supplied me with a copy of the document in good time. I am glad that he acknowledges that it would have been better if statements had been made in both places simultaneously, especially as the subject matter, although it may be legalistic, touches on several contentious topics that are relevant to issues before the House at present.

The report is to be commended. I am sure that the House would wish to thank Mr. Stephen Wooler and his team. Although its remit is restricted to the Crown Prosecution Service, with an added angle of the police role, it is detailed, illuminating and helpful. The fact that no verdict was returned in the case enabled Mr. Wooler’s team, most unusually, to be able to interview jurors about their views in relation to the process, which he described as a “hugely valuable insight” into the case.

The collapse of this case was at huge public expense—some £25 million, with no verdict returned. It has been used extensively by those who have supported the argument that juries should be got rid of in long and complex fraud cases. Does not a detailed reading of this report show that that assertion is entirely unjustified? Is not one of the most interesting conclusions of Mr. Wooler’s report that his analysis does not support that at all, and that the argument is wholly erroneous? At paragraph 9 of the executive summary, Mr. Wooler said that

“although the collapse of the Jubilee Line case was regarded in many quarters as relevant to the debate about the suitability of juries to try charges of fraud, and in particular the proposal to implement Section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003”—

which has been a highly contentious issue before this House—

“its circumstances were in reality so unusual that it cannot be relied on to support either position in that debate.”

Will the Solicitor-General please confirm that that is the position of the Law Officers, because I noted both yesterday and in the Solicitor-General’s remarks, but especially in remarks made by the Attorney-General on a news programme yesterday evening, that he appears to disagree with his own inspector’s report in respect of that matter?

Furthermore, the main body of the report contains ample evidence that goes further in supporting the role of juries in trials of this kind. At paragraph 1.40, in relation to the jury, Mr. Wooler says:

“No responsibility for the inconclusive outcome of the case can properly be attributed to the capabilities or conduct of the jury. Overall, they discharged their duties in a thorough and conscientious manner. Collectively, they appeared even at the time of our interview with them to have a good grip of the evidence and the issues, particularly allowing for the fact that many months had passed since they had last heard any evidence.”

What is perhaps most telling—I should be grateful for the Solicitor-General’s comments on this—is that the inquiry had before it a letter from one of the jurors, written on the day on which the trial had collapsed and the acquittals had been recorded, in which he expressed his deep displeasure. The letter, which can be found in paragraph 11.6 of the report, says:

“I, along with the majority of the jurors, had a good understanding of what was going on in the courtroom and I have taken exception to comments made by yourself”

—the judge—

“and Mr Upward”

—the prosecutor—

“in tonight’s news coverage. It is being stated that you and other members of the court thought that we were unable to remember evidence from the early stages of the trial and thus a fair trial would prove impossible. Nobody asked for our comments and what we felt. Why would the majority of us be making notes? So that when we came to deliberate we could refer back to them and make informed decisions. I personally referred to my notes regularly during the trial and was thus able to compare evidence and make informed judgements as the case proceeded. To now be labelled an incompetent is not acceptable”.

These are important issues. I have to tell the Solicitor-General that I am troubled that on repeated occasions when we have come to consider the issues of juries in long fraud trials, we have appeared to be faced with a blank wall when we have confronted the Government. In a debate in the House on 21 June 2005, when a statement was made that there would be an end to juries in certain fraud trials, the Solicitor-General said:

“Stephen Wooler is indeed looking into the background of the Jubilee line trial and will no doubt make his report in due course, but the House needs to know when the Government have made a clear decision.”—[Official Report, 21 June 2005; Vol. 435, c. 658.]

May I ask the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General, in the light of this extremely compelling and interesting report, to reconsider their position and to take on board the comments that have been made? Will the Solicitor-General also confirm the other point that was made so tellingly in the report—that even if the Government’s proposals in section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act had been implemented, the trial would almost certainly have taken place with a jury in any event? To use this case because of the waste of public money that has resulted is particularly pernicious, and I very much hope that the Attorney-General will stop doing it.

The causes of the collapse have been correctly identified by the Solicitor-General, but one of them deserves special focus. The decision to charge conspiracy to defraud at common law was regarded by Mr. Wooler as muddling matters by introducing a charge that was vague and insufficiently particularised, and which, most remarkably, added 10 months to the trial when the issues surrounding it had to be fully explored.

The Solicitor-General will know that as the Fraud Bill has made its way through the House, the Government have resolutely maintained that the law of conspiracy to defraud at common law must be retained. May we please have an assurance from the Solicitor-General that as the Report stage of the Bill has not yet been reached, he will give careful consideration to the comments made by Mr. Wooler as an example of the particular application of the charge of common law conspiracy? Is it not the case that the decision to charge conspiracy to defraud at common law was one of the most disastrous elements that led to the eventual collapse of the trial? There must be lessons from that. Even if we do not get rid of conspiracy to defraud at common law, I very much hope that the Solicitor-General can assure the House that the issue will be examined in the context of the guidelines that the Attorney-General has already published.

The Solicitor-General will be aware of substantial criticisms of the way in which fraud has been handled by the Crown Prosecution Service in recent years. In saying that, I am very conscious of the fact that it is clear from the Solicitor-General’s statement that steps have been taken to rectify the situation. But the House is entitled to be concerned to discover that this was an unintended consequence of setting up the Serious Fraud Office. Will the Solicitor-General give an assurance to the House that the way in which changes are brought about will be kept under close review? For example, in respect of cases such as this one, should the SFO be encouraged to expand its remit in bringing prosecutions, thereby taking them away from the Crown Prosecution Service? Otherwise, there will have to be two parallel centres of expertise, because in the light of the report it is clear that the lack of a centre of expertise within the CPS was a contributory cause of the prosecution’s failure.

The Solicitor-General mentioned that he was able to accept 10 of the 11 recommendations, and, obviously, I welcome that very much. In respect of the recommendation that he was unable to accept, I entirely understand why that cannot simply be done by the Government, because it concerned the involvement of the judiciary in the development of procedures to have a comprehensive view of cases, and particularly the role of judges in case management.

I appreciate that that is a difficult issue. Judicial independence must be maintained. The judge in this case was—very properly—unable to co-operate with the inquiry, and to have done so would have been a misconduct on her part. But it would be desirable if a mechanism could be found to help judges in an area that all experience suggests is very challenging, and where even the ablest of them often have difficulty. I very much hope that the Solicitor-General is able to indicate to the House that this matter is being properly progressed.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has raised his points and for his general welcome for the report of Stephen Wooler and his team, and I join him in thanking them for what they have done. They produced a very thorough report that dealt with all the issues that they were asked to cover, and we in this House are very grateful to them for that.

The hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues. In relation to non-jury trials and section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, there is nothing in the report, as he indicated because he read the relevant part of it, that suggests that there is proof either way of whether non-jury trials are desirable. However, what my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said was not that the report somehow proved the case one way or the other, but that it was illustrative to a considerable degree of the challenges of presenting long and complex cases in front of a jury—such as the way in which such cases had to be presented, the sheer length of them, and the enormous pressures on the jury.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have agreed that the issues in relation to section 43 will be dealt with by way of a free-standing Bill, which will give us all the opportunity to look at the detailed arguments about non-jury trials. However, let me just say this: we are dealing with a suggestion in relation to not the 29,000 cases that are currently dealt with by juries, but perhaps half a dozen a year—up to a maximum of 20—of the most serious cases, which represents a fraction of 1 per cent. We need to find ways in which not only blue collar crime, but the most complex fraud and white collar crime, can be tackled effectively. I support using juries in the vast majority of cases. However, for some cases I argue not that the jury cannot understand the evidence—I hear what the juror said about making notes, and I am sure that he was assiduous in ensuring that he followed the evidence with great care—but that very long trials impose an unacceptable burden on jurors.

To make trials manageable, prosecutors often have to resort to tactics such as splitting complex cases into separate trials and reducing the number of counts on an indictment, and therefore the full culpability of criminals is frequently not exposed to a jury. We need to find a better way. We have repeatedly offered to discuss the matter with the Opposition to see if we can reach an agreement. That has not yet been possible, but I hope that between now and when we consider the Bill, we will have the opportunity to reach agreement.

The benefits of section 43 are clear. The full criminality of an issue can be exposed. We should have shorter trials. The judges can read the papers, rather than them having to be presented orally before a jury. In that way, we should be able to expose the full criminality of such issues and ensure that criminals get their just desserts.

The hon. Gentleman referred in particular to count two, which deals with conspiracy to defraud, but that was not the only cause of the collapse of the trial. There were other causes, such as the illness of a defendant and the slow and disjointed nature of the proceedings. But the fact that from an early stage the investigation did not focus on collecting all the evidence necessary to prove count two was a matter of some concern. The prosecution’s failure to show in particular why London Underground Ltd was defrauded by the conspiracy referred to in count two caused a problem, but the judge did find on two occasions that it was a proper charge.

Let me also add that we have had general discussions about conspiracy to defraud in debates on the Fraud Bill. The report does not recommend the repeal of conspiracy to defraud. As the hon. Gentleman knows, in our consultation on the Fraud Bill the majority of respondents asked us to keep conspiracy to defraud. The Rose Committee of senior judges said that it would be a big mistake to revoke it. In respect of the Fraud Bill, there will be forms of behaviour that will not be considered fraud under statute—for example, where a defendant plays his part in committing a crime but is ignorant of the wider details of the fraud, and where the final crime was committed by someone outside the immediate conspiracy.

That said, let me make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that we hope to be able in due course to repeal conspiracy to defraud. The Government propose to have a review on that in about three years. In the meantime, the Attorney-General has produced guidelines which we hope will reduce the use of conspiracy to defraud, so that it is employed only where necessary.

The hon. Gentleman asked about changes in respect of Crown prosecutions, and I assure him that we will continue to monitor the way in which they occur. The case management panels will have monthly reviews, and we hope that that will lead to an improvement in the standard of prosecutions. Recommendation six said that there should be a multidisciplinary approach, with investigators, prosecutors and accountants—and other experts where appropriate—working together as a team from the early stages of investigations. We want to see that that happens, too. However, I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks: we will continue to monitor such changes.

The hon. Gentleman commented on the recommendation on judges. I entirely agree that it is important that we maintain judicial independence—we must ensure that the independence of the judge in question, who quite properly decided not to engage in the inquiry, is maintained. However, we will also have appropriate discussions with the judiciary to see what steps it wishes to take in the light of these recommendations.

I thank the Solicitor-General for his statement and his courtesies yesterday. I impute no criticism to him for the way that events have turned out. There was a robust set of questions and exchanges involving the Attorney-General yesterday in the House Lords, and I want to refer to some of them.

I have a particular interest in this case as I am the MP for the constituency that was most affected by the Jubilee line extension. I join the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) in congratulating Mr. Wooler and his team; they clearly did a good job, and it was right of the Attorney-General to commission that inspection by the new body set up just for that purpose.

The 11 recommendations raise many issues, but I hope that the Solicitor-General will agree that there abide three central issues, and I should add that much of what I say will reflect concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield. There is the conspiracy to defraud issue; the issue that the failures were of the prosecution, not of the defence; and the issue that the principle of jury trial was not at fault. To paraphrase a much more famous selection from three, the greatest of these principles is that the principle of jury trial was not at fault.

The first and third issues relate to the fact that the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General have, as it were, set themselves in opposition to the logic of the recommendations. I therefore join in encouraging Law Officers to retain their intention to get rid of the conspiracy to defraud charge at the earliest opportunity. More generally, when the Law Commission makes such recommendations, it should give both Houses the chance to debate them on the basis of a considered proposal put before us. Had it done so, we could have anticipated such issues and possibly prevented this serious and very expensive mistake.

On the second issue, I wonder whether the Solicitor-General can give an answer that the Attorney-General was unable to give yesterday. The latter has accepted the proposed setting up of a fraud prosecution division, which, in effect, would reinstate under another name the arrangement that applied until a few years ago. How far has that proposal got? Has it been set up, and is it in place? If so, how many cases are now being looked after by these specialists within the London Crown Prosecution Service? It is clear that the Attorney-General has accepted that we need a structure that not only contains specialists, but has senior management control over all such cases.

Thirdly, the Solicitor-General quoted the phrase used by the Attorney-General, who said that

“the case illustrates a good deal about the challenges of presenting long and complex cases in front of a jury.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 27 June 2006; Vol. 683, c. 1099.]

Indeed it does, and the conclusion was that juries can cope. In the light of that, can the Solicitor-General confirm expressly that not until the Fraud Bill—this issue has been debated during consideration of that Bill—has been enacted and tested for some years, and not until the fraud review has had some years in which to be digested, will we have any suggestion from the Government that we need to look again at changes to the principle that juries deal with fraud cases? Having passed a significant Act through Parliament that deals with these issues, it would be nonsense then suddenly to say, “We need to change the law.”

Finally, recommendation 5 sets out some very practical suggestions on how jurors should be dealt with—more respectfully and carefully, and simply more considerately—particularly in longer cases. May I have an assurance that those lessons will be learned, and that judges and courts will in future make it clear that jurors—who clearly can do the job—are respected for the job that they are willing to do, want to do and can do competently? They must be treated as a very important part of our democratic and constitutional system—a system that we Liberal Democrats believe should be the principle for dealing with all serious cases in this country.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courteous reply, and particularly for what he said about the statement—or lack of it—yesterday. Let me deal first with his final point, about which he is quite right: we should improve the quality of our treatment of jurors. I have spoken to some people who have served on juries who were particularly concerned about the way in which they were dealt with. If we can find ways of making that experience a little easier for jurors, that would be very desirable. When a juror is dealing with an extremely long case, it is all the more important that any family and work-related issues that might arise are taken account of. That will always prove very difficult in long cases, and there will always be trials that last a long time, even if we bring into play section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. It is right that, in those circumstances, we should make sure that we do the best by those citizens who have given up their time to deal with such cases.

Let me deal with what the hon. Gentleman said about jury trials. Mr. Justice Auld, in his report of 2001, made his views on this issue very clear:

“If I had to pick two of the most compelling factors in favour of reform, I would settle on the burdensome length and increasing speciality and complexity of these cases, with which jurors, largely or wholly strangers to the subject…are expected to cope. Both put justice at risk.”

He went on to say:

“I am firmly of the view that we should wait no longer before introducing a more just and efficient form of trial in serious and complex fraud cases.”

Mr. Justice McKinnon, who had to deal with the Blue Arrow case, said:

“No jury should be asked to cope with what this jury… had to endure”

in terms of a very long trial. The Court of Appeal said that, in that case,

“there was a significant risk of a miscarriage of justice resulting from the volume and complexity of the evidence.”

I have gone through the arguments about the way in which prosecutors ensure that cases can go on, and I shall not rehearse them. What we need to do now is to look seriously at how we can get a just outcome from these trials. I invite the hon. Gentleman—and, indeed, all the Opposition parties—to engage in serious discussions on how we can best deal with these cases.

The Government want, in due course, to find circumstances in which we can repeal the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. We want to review that, probably in 2009—we said that we will do so three years after the passage of the Fraud Bill, which, I assume, will go through this year—so that is the time scale that we are looking at.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the fraud prosecution service, which has indeed come into existence. It is a new fraud unit that will harness the skills and experience of specialist fraud prosecutors, and Mr. David Kirk, a top private sector lawyer, has been appointed as its head. I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman how many cases it has dealt with up to now. Given that its remit was established only recently, I suspect that it has yet to get many cases to trial; however, it will doubtless be investigating a number of such cases. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman, if he will allow me, with that information.

I notice that, in their statements, the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General have somewhat quietly and carefully shifted the argument about jury trials: they are now talking about people being kept there too long, and the difficulty of sustaining such trials. May I take the Solicitor-General back to what happened at the collapse of the Jubilee line trial and the surrounding events? Previously, there had been a very strong implication that ordinary members of the public who make up juries in fraud cases could not be expected to understand the complexities involved. The issue was them and their abilities, and not so much the time that they spent in the pursuit of such trials.

This report is more than just a blocker in terms of the attacks on juries; it actually upholds the principle of jury trials. When the jurors were interviewed, I was astonished to discover the amount of information that they retained, and their understanding and grasp of these so-called complex issues. Why, when such difficulties arise, do we, in this country alone, blame those who are determined to seek the balance, rather than those who bring the case? In America, under the procedures that apply there, a case was brought against Enron in six months—with a jury.

I invite the right hon. Gentleman to check the records, and if he does I think that he will find that the Government have never heavily relied on the Jubilee line case. Moreover, we have not argued the case that jurors are incapable of understanding such issues—the problem is the burden that a vast amount of complex information and exhibits, presented to a jury over a very long period, place on any juror. The process of oral presentation of evidence takes a very long time, but it could be dealt with by a judge very quickly; it could even be dealt with by a judge sitting with assessors, which is one suggestion that Lord Justice Auld looked at.

We must treat this issue with a great deal more seriousness. There is a tendency to fall back on the view that this is somehow an attack on juries, but it is not: it is an attempt to find a way to get justice, so that the full criminality of those who commit very complex fraud can be brought before a court and dealt with fully and properly.

The right hon. Gentleman made an interesting point about the United States of America. We have been examining the circumstances there with a great deal of care. The US deals with cases, particularly complex fraud cases, in a very different way. Perhaps the most significant difference is the frequent use of plea bargaining. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will consider the range of lessons to be learned not only from the United States, but from Hong Kong and other countries and jurisdictions. That might form part of the wider fraud review that we hope will report by the summer and will be able to lead us towards better ways of dealing with complex fraud investigations, as well as prosecutions.

Reference has been made to the 11 recommendations in the report, 10 of which have been substantially accepted. Can the Solicitor-General give the House an assurance that measures will be put in place to ensure that those proposals are not only properly implemented, but monitored to see whether any alterations need to be made?

Yes, I can give that reassurance. We have already had discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the director of the Serious Fraud Office is also aware of the full implications of the report. Its recommendations are important. We want them to be fully implemented, and we will monitor the situation to ensure that they are.

I find it hard to believe that the Government’s proposal to do without trials is due to the length of time that they take. The Solicitor-General let the cat of the bag a moment ago when he said that we are not getting enough convictions. Is not the truth of the matter that the CPS cannot present its cases well enough to get convictions, and that is why it wants to do away with juries?

The hon. Gentleman does a disservice to the CPS. Certainly, the report made some criticisms of its handling of this case, but in many other trials it has handled fraud matters very well. There is a need for improvement. That is why certain reforms have been put in place, particularly since the statement made in 2003 by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General about changing the way in which cases are considered. We want the prosecution of fraud to be carried out properly and effectively. That is not only about getting more convictions, but about securing justice, and justice requires that those who have committed an offence have the full extent of their culpability exposed before a court so that they can be properly dealt with by the criminal justice system. I am concerned that the way in which prosecutions occur at the moment, with indictments being split and the number of counts being reduced, sometimes means that there is not a full exposure of that level of culpability. We need to consider that seriously, as putting our heads in the sand and being blind to it has taken us nowhere.