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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 545: debated on Tuesday 22 May 2012

9. What recent discussions he has had with the Director of the Serious Fraud Office about the future of that organisation. (108459)

I have had many, both with the new director, Mr David Green, and with his predecessor, Mr Richard Alderman. The SFO has a bright future.

In view of the really bad press that the Serious Fraud Office has been getting of late, has the Solicitor-General had an opportunity to consider the failure of the Department for Work and Pensions properly to assess the risk of fraud at A4e and, in particular, to obtain key evidence relating to internal audit documents, as identified by the National Audit Office this week? Does he believe that there is a role for the SFO in providing specialist help to Departments?

No, the Serious Fraud Office has a remit to deal with high-end fraud, international fraud and corruption. The work of the Department for Work and Pensions is a matter for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Without going into specific case details, I must ask: does not recent adverse publicity about the incompetence of the Serious Fraud Office call into question the integrity of fraud investigation in our country? Is it not a matter of utmost importance that we should address urgently?

Although, with the greatest respect, I do not entirely accept the premise of all my hon. Friend’s question, I can assure him that the Serious Fraud Office is pursuing investigations and prosecutions with competence and vigour. I appreciate that Lord Justice Thomas has had some interesting things to say about the SFO in a current case, upon which I shall not comment further.