Partner Richard Cannon comments on the future of the SFO, in The Times, following the decision by the Court of Appeal last week to quash the bribery conviction of a manager at Unaoil.

Richard’s comments were published in The Times, 16 December 2021, and can be found here.

Following the decision by the Court of Appeal last week to quash the bribery conviction of a manager at Unaoil, a consultancy based in Monaco, Richard Cannon, explains that a unique aspect of the SFO is its policy of having investigators and lawyers “working side by side from the cradle to grave of the criminal process”.

The damning ruling described prosecutors at the SFO, of which Lisa Osofsky is director, as being responsible for a “serious failure” in meeting disclosure requirements.

Richard further commented that the forthcoming inquiry “will want to consider whether that structure has in this case clouded the objectivity of the lawyers making disclosure decisions independently from investigators and that, in fact, the separation of functions in distinct organisations provides a greater separation of powers and protection for the integrity of the investigative and prosecutorial process”.

“Those who have been calling for the disbandment of the SFO will be emboldened by this turn of events, whilst those who were ambivalent may be more drawn to the cause,” Cannon says.

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