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The Poulson affair: corruption and the role of bankruptcy law public examinations in the early 1970s

By John Tribe


This article examines the Poulson affair of the early 1970s. In so doing it examines two areas in particular. First, the role of the bankruptcy law public examination procedure in exposing Cabinet level involvement in the corrupt practices of the bankrupt architect, John Garlick Llewellyn Pouslon. In the course of his 1972 bankruptcy proceedings, in Wakefield, it emerged that Poulson had used, through one of his companies, the services of Reginald Maudling MP, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and at the time of Poulson's bankruptcy Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister in Edward Heath's government. As a result of his involvement in Poulson's affairs Maudling was compelled to resign as Home Secretary. In the course of the next three years or so Poulson, T. Dan Smith, Pottinger and several others were convicted of bribery offences in the Leeds Crown Court and sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment. The second main area examined in this article highlights the attempt to curtail the public examination of Poulson through the undermining of the trustee in bankruptcy’s silk, namely, Mr Muir Hunter QC. In examining the bankruptcy public examination procedure the article tests whether the demise in the importance of public examinations has harmed the effectiveness and social benefit of English and Welsh personal insolvency law

Topics: law, accounting
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Year: 2010
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