You’ll have noticed that we haven’t updated this blog much recently and I’m sure it will be clear why. Since the end of June we’ve seen a massive upheaval in British politics. But as we settle back to business after the summer break and the dust begins to clear (a little) I wanted to share some thoughts on the impact of what has happened and what it might mean for the Justice campaign.
- Our campaign target hasn’t changed
The Justice campaign has always targeted the UK government because they have the power to update the law so that big companies can be prosecuted for corporate crimes abroad. Unlike international trade agreements, criminal liability has never been devolved to the EU and so things won’t change on that front.
- New faces - new approach?
Both before and since her appointment, the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has repeatedly assured us she will be: “getting tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”. In a speech to fellow Conservatives in July she said that, despite being the party of enterprise, “that does not mean we should be prepared to accept that ‘anything goes’.”
These are welcome words – and we’ll look forward to them being put into practice.
The key ministers for the Justice campaign are now:
Minister of Justice, Liz Truss (replacing Michael Gove)
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark (replacing Sajid Javid)
Boris Johnson, new Foreign Secretary (replacing Philip Hammond)
We are writing to the new ministers to welcome them to their posts and will outline why we think the law needs to be changed so that big companies can be prosecuted for the most serious corporate crimes abroad.
It would be fair to say that none of the previous ministers was a particular champion of business and human rights. Will any of the new ministers will be any better? We will have to wait and see.
- What next?
The last major development on the campaign was in May this year when the then-Prime Minister David Cameron promised a consultation on introducing a ‘failure to prevent’ offence for companies committing economic crimes.
It looks as though this consultation will take place over the next few months. It’s likely to ask questions about how companies could be prosecuted for crimes including money laundering, fraud and false accounting.
But we know that these economic crimes very often go hand in hand with other corporate crimes including serious injuries and widespread pollution. So we are asking the government to extend the consultation to include a question about these wider offences.
Photo of Theresa May nymag.com under Creative Commons.