Guinness Four appeal fails

If the appeal had gone in their favour, the SFO could have been left open to legal action from former Guinness chief Ernest Saunders and his co-defendants in the Distillers takeover trial.

‘The convictions of all the appellants are safe, and their appeals are dismissed,’ said Lord Justice Christopher Rose.

The four – Ernest Saunders, businessman Gerald Ronson, financier Jack Lyons and stockbroker Anthony Parnes – had claimed they did not get a fair trial.

Saunders had applied to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that his rights had been contravened through the use in his trial of evidence provided by him to DTI inspectors under compulsory powers.

In a statement the SFO said it had always maintained that the investigation and prosecution of the case was conducted properly and fairly within the then prevailing law and procedures.

‘Today’s judgement is a signal reinforcement of that position,’ it said.Saunders, 62, chief executive of Guinness at the time of its takeover of Distillers, was jailed for five years in false accounting, theft and conspiracy.

The sentence was halved after an earlier appeal and he was released from open prison after serving only 10 months when doctors decided he was suffering from dementia.

Now a company consultant, he says the diagnosis of his condition was mistaken.


SFO challenges Guinness appeal

Guinness convictions to face appeal court grilling

Related reading