Brian Swan, Partner at Stokoe Partnership Solicitors, comments in Solicitors Journal regarding the Serious Fraud Office’s new Section 2 interview guidelines.

“Witnesses must be protected from ‘distressing’ interview experience, says white collar crime lawyer.

A rise in the number of witnesses interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) failed to lead to more convictions last year, the latest statistics has revealed.

In 2015, 177 witnesses were compelled to attend interviews – a 37 per cent increase on the 129 interviews completed the year before, according to RPC…

In June, the agency announced new guidelines that compel witnesses to attend interviews, under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987.

In a recent article for Solicitors Journal, Brian Swan, a partner at Stokoe Partnership Solicitors, warned that the new guidance could potentially backfire on the SFO, directly ‘hampering investigations by reducing cooperation with witnesses and by reducing dialogue with firms involved’.

Witnesses must foot the bill of their lawyer whom must prove that their presence is ‘likely [to] assist the purpose of the interview’ or provide ‘essential assistance’…”

Read the full article on the Solicitors Journal website here.