by Sam Tobin at reuters.com
LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) – The collapse of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office’s prosecution of three former executives at security company G4S on Friday raises serious questions about the agency’s resources and criminal disclosure rules, lawyers and campaigners said.
Three ex-employees of G4S subsidiary G4S Care and Justice Services were formally acquitted at London’s Old Bailey of seven charges for allegedly defrauding the British government between 2009 and 2012 over an electronic tagging contract.
Former managing director Richard Morris, 47, ex-commercial director Mark Preston, 51, and former finance manager James Jardine, 41, had denied all of the charges.
The Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) lawyer Crispin Aylett told Judge Jeremy Johnson: “While the prosecution considers that there remains a realistic prospect of a conviction against each defendant, we have come to the conclusion that it is no longer in the public interest to proceed with this case.”
Jardine’s lawyer Jonathan Pickworth told reporters outside court: “I think it’s a lazy justification for the SFO’s own failings.”
Morris said in a statement: “From the outset, the allegations against me were plainly wrong. That it has taken 10 years for the SFO to acknowledge as much is a scandal.”
The collapse of the case is the latest high-profile failure for the SFO, which has faced criticism in recent years over repeated issues with disclosing key documents to defendants.