Joshua Rozenberg’s justification of Judge Cooke’s 14-year sentence on my son, Tom, for conspiracy to defraud (14 years in jail for Libor rigging? The judge makes a persuasive case, 4 August) may satisfy those who think there is no penalty too harsh for a banker.
Thankfully many others have taken the opposite view: that this is a brutal punishment on a relatively lowly trader in obscure financial derivatives pegged to Japanese yen Libor, when the real architects of financial manipulation and skulduggery in Wall Street and the City remain untouched.
Clearly unfamiliar with the complexities of this case, Mr Rozenberg simply and uncritically reproduces the judge’s sentencing remarks in a circular argument that Sir Jeremy Cooke got it right. Perhaps in strict legal terms the 14-year tariff conforms to the guidelines for such cases. One could hardly expect otherwise from such a senior judge.
But even in these days of mandatory sentencing, judges have considerable discretion with the penalties they impose. Judge Cooke refused to admit any mitigating factors when sentencing Tom, and has shown consistent bias and hostility towards my son from the start. In an early pre-trial hearing, accusing Tom of being a gambler, he declared: “In my own mind if I was trying this case myself without a jury, it would not last two weeks … it is an open and shut case on the emails … it is self-evident there was dishonesty.” Tom’s legal team launched a forlorn attempt to have the judge remove himself from the case on the basis of this and other comments. When it came to the trial, characterised by the suppression of evidence and a refusal to put vital documents before the jury, it culminated in an inevitable conclusion with the jury confined to a very narrow interpretation of the evidence, as directed by Judge Cooke.
The fact of the matter is that Judge Cooke has form when it comes to sentencing: take the case of the callow young Pakistani cricketer, Mohammad Amir, sentenced to six months for his part in the cricket corruption case stemming from a News of the World sting. “This sentence is callous, vindictive and a disgrace to the justice system” wrote Matthew Norman in the Telegraph. The eight-year sentence on Sarah Catt for performing a late abortion on herself in distressed circumstances caused a public outcry.
Tom, I can report, is at peace with himself – whatever the personal cost to him and his family he knows in his heart he is not guilty and can tell his young son as much when he is old enough. Tom has his integrity and self-respect intact.
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