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MPs blast work-at-home deal for former SFO chief

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) issued a report in July that set out a ‘catalogue of errors and poor judgement’ by Richard Alderman, the former director of the Serious Fraud Office, for the terms he agreed with the agency’s former chief executive.

Phillippa Williamson, the PAC report said, was reimbursed $153,000 in travel and hotel costs for weekly trips from her home in the Lake District to the SFO’s headquarters in London.

She resigned as the SFO’s chief executive in 2012 after four years.

Her severance package included a pension of $712,000, with an ‘enhancement’ that didn’t have required approval from the Cabinet Office, the PAC report said.

Alderman, who left the SFO in April 2012, allowed Williamson to work two days a week from her home in the Lake District. She then commuted 550 miles to London to spend three days each week at the SFO’s London headquarters.

According to a story by the Independent,

Richard Bacon, a member of the PAC, said: “For the chief executive officer of an important public body such as the Serious Fraud Office to be granted such arrangements is quite astounding.”  The MPs also accused Mr Alderman of displaying a “disregard for the proper use of taxpayers’ money” by agreeing severance packages for three senior staff, including Ms Williamson.

The committee report said Alderman ignored legal advice and should have looked for ‘alternative placements’ for the SFO staff.

Alderman appeared before the House of Commons committee earlier this year for a public grilling. A week later, he submitted a letter admitting the lapses and offering his ‘deep and unreserved apology.’


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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