No faith in these convictions?

Both your article regarding the Doyle/Abbey National case (MW August 30 2001) and the letter from Paul Seligman (MW September 20 2001) have been brought to our attention. Regrettably, our involvement in other cases, most notably the appeal of Tony Martin, has prevented us from commenting until now.

Given Marketing Week’s role in exposing the case, we were surprised to note that when referring to the case against the agency BDP and two of its executives, several important facts were omitted:

– The prosecution’s attempt to undermine the validity of BDP’s contract was destroyed, ironically, by a senior Abbey National employee, who confirmed the agency had in fact been appointed on merit following a competitive pitch.

– Suggestions that BDP’s contract was overly generous could not be substantiated. Close examination confirmed that it accorded with an ISBA-approved methodology and was virtually identical to those of other agencies, never the subject of criticism.

– The evidence confirmed that neither Zak nor Spillane received any personal benefit from Abbey National transactions.

– Contrary to the inference in your article, no evidence was presented of any BDP executive bribing (or attempting to bribe) Doyle.

– There was no direct evidence of any BDP executive conspiring with Doyle to defraud Abbey National.

Ironically perhaps, evidence endorsing the attitude and actions of BDP executives was provided by a prosecution witness from a rival agency – Paul Seligman, joint managing director of Communicator. Indeed, the trial evidence established that the two agencies acted for Abbey National in virtually identical ways. It was never suggested that Mr Seligman’s actions constituted conspiracy to defraud Abbey National, so it would follow that Mr Zak’s did not either.

On what basis, therefore, the jury decided there was evidence to convict the BDP executives and Doyle is difficult to fathom. Regrettably, and as many professional commentators have observed, the sort of jury required for this type of case is difficult to find, and one suspects this particular jury was not mentally equipped to deal with the complexities of the proceedings. Add to this an investigation which was at best partial and inadequate, the unavailability of relevant documentation and the withdrawal of three-quarters of the value of the prosecution case, and the ingredients for yet another possible miscarriage of justice appear.

Peter Sainsbury

General secretary

The POW Trust

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