Capitalism on trial

THE TRIAL of the Maxwell brothers raises a number of questions, the least being fraud. We are all well aware that it is both widespread and endemic to the system. Figures published in the Financial Times (June 5) suggest that it is between two and five percent of total turnover and is committed mostly by senior management. For the most part they get away with it.

The Maxwells are charged with dishonestly using £100 million worth of shares owned by their company’s pension fund, and it is clear that if the gamble had come off there would have been no charges against them.

At the same time it is being suggested that jury trials should be done away with in complicated, technical cases of this sort. The jury system has already been weakened by allowing majority convictions, while many cases are dealt with by the magistrates’ courts.

The bourgeois press is also making a case against legal aid for the Maxwells. Though it is in one sense a matter of indifference to us as to what happens to such parasites, the availability of legal aid is no trivial matter.

The government is planning to cap the total funds allocated, and Labour spokesman Paul Boateng - yet another former darling of the left - has made it clear that he too is in favour of this. It is already denied to people with quite modest incomes or savings and it is also not available in all types of cases.

John Bayliss