MPs slam fraud squad over pay and expenses

BRITAIN’S fraud-fighting agency was run in a manner that showed disregard for taxpayers’ money, damaging staff morale and undermining its standing, according to a report released today by MPs.

The public accounts committee criticises Richard Alderman, the former director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), for his 2008 decision to hire Phillippa Williamson as chief operating officer while allowing her to remain based in the Lake District.

This left the taxpayer to pick up a bill of nearly £100,000 for hotels and travel over the four years she commuted to London. Williamson, who later became chief executive in 2010, worked at home for two days a week and also received a salary worth around £125,000 until she resigned early last year.

Alderman, who quit the SFO in 2011, is also criticised by MPs for failing to follow due process when signing off severance payments worth £15,000 to top executives. This was part of an attempt to avoid grievance action, despite legal advice suggesting this was not needed.

“The former director Richard Alderman’s decisions showed a disregard for the proper use of taxpayers’ money,” said the committee’s Richard Bacon MP. “By deciding the size of severance packages, and not seeking alternative placements for staff, he failed to follow due process.”

The committee said it welcomed a commitment from David Green, the SFO’s new director, to strengthen governance at the organisation.

The SFO said it would consider the report and recommendations.

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