The US Department of No Justice

Tomorrow's Business

My lawyer mate is good at getting people off. It helps if they are innocent, but not vital. Pop stars, sportsmen and business folk in serious trouble have him on speed dial.

My favourite story is the footballer cleared of beating someone up, even though he did it in a nightclub, on CCTV, in front of about 300 people.

Not guilty your honour.

The point at which my lawyer panics, pulls out the white flag and tells his client to cop a plea, to do some time, to take the hit, is if the American authorities, particularly the Department of Justice, are getting involved.

These folk care not for actual justice, he says. They expect you to go quietly, or face 30 years in prison for something that may not have been your fault. The risks of fighting your corner are immense.

And so to Hewlett-Packard, which is suing Autonomy founder Mike Lynch over allegations he and his finance chief inflated the value of the software business before selling it.

The US has already requested Lynch’s extradition to face criminal charges. I don’t know if Lynch has a case to answer or not. I do know the process does not look fair.

With the backing of the UK government, he should stay. It’s relevant now because, in a deal of remarkable symmetry, Micro Focus has come clean on the extent of its chronic indigestion integrating assets from Hewlett Packard. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the SFO demand that HP execs are sent over in chains.

Flaks should start making the DoJ look bad. It shouldn’t be hard.

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