Partner Richard Cannon comments on the recent announcement from Director of the Serious Fraud Office that the agency will push to pay whistleblowers, as well as deploy ‘covert tactics’ borrowed from policing.

Richard’s comments were published in The Times, 22 February 2024, which can be found here, City A.M., 14 February 2024, which can be found here, and The Law Society Gazette, 19 February 2024, which can be found here.

“With this push to pay whistleblowers, the SFO is clearly looking at their counterparts across the Atlantic for inspiration. However, in the UK this may be a less effective strategy.

“It remains to be seen what a jury in the UK would make of this arrangement which has not historically been part of the criminal justice landscape.

“As rewards increase, undoubtedly so will cases of false or over reporting and it is vital that the SFO focuses on bringing effective and safe prosecutions rather than risking time, resources and further reputational damage investigating false reports and pursuing investigations on the back of them.

“For an agency that has long struggled with issues of transparency and disclosure, covert tactics could be an unwelcome addition to the organisation’s playbook. Following a litany of recent failings, if the agency is to regain public confidence and trust it must work to ensure there is greater transparency in investigations and prosecutions. This path is fraught with danger.”

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