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SFO drops case against former G4S managers

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Friday 10 Mar 2023

SFO drops case against former G4S managers

(Sharecast News) - The Serious Fraud Office has dropped its case against three former G4S managers, bringing a decade-long investigation to a close.
Richard Morris, Mark Preston and James Jardine were formally acquitted at a hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday, after the SFO put forward no evidence. All had denied the charges against them, and an application to halt the prosecution was due to be heard later this month.

The SFO's barrister, Crispin Aylett KC, told the court that the decision to drop the case had not been taken "either quickly or lightly", according to Sky News.

He continued: "The defendants have been under suspicion for ten years and the prosecution are only too aware of the impact of proceedings will have on them and their families.

"We recognised the potential unfairness of asking that this should go on for a substantial period of time.

"We regret the way the case has turned out."

Morris, Preston and Jardine were employed by G4S subsidiary G4S Care and Justice Services, which was accused of defrauding the British government over an electronic tagging contract.

They were charged with seven counts of fraud by false representation between 2009 and 2012 in September 2020, two months after G4S agreed a deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO.

Under the DPA, G4S accepted responsibility for three counts of fraud, was fined £38.5m and agreed to cover the SFO's legal costs of £5.9m.

But it was allowed to continue to be considered a government supplier as the DPA only applied criminal liability for G4S Care and Justice Services and not to any current or former employees.

Ross Dixon, Morris' solicitor, said: "The case collapsed because the SFO failed to understand its own evidence, failed to secure significant evidence and only at the eleventh hour disclosed key material that undermined its case.

"It is deeply worrying that, after such a long term, only now has the SFO offered no evidence."

Speaking after the hearing, Morris added: "From the outset the allegations were plainly wrong. That is has taken 10 years for the SFO to acknowledge as much is a scandal.

"I was shocked when I learnt that G4S had entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement accusing me of wrongdoing, a wholly untrue allegation."

Joanna Dimmock, Jardine's solicitor, added: "After ten years of delay, mismanagement and misunderstanding of the evidence, the SFO have finally recognised this case should never have been brought."

In a brief statement, a spokesperson for the SFO said: "As public prosecutor, we have to make difficult decisions, including ending a prosecution where it is right to do so.

"In line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, we have determined it is no longer in the public interest to continue this prosecution."

In 2014, G4S Care and Justice Services paid £121m to the Ministry of Justice to settle civil claims relating to tagging services.


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