LONDON (AP) — U.K. authorities on Friday dropped fraud charges against three former executives of security firm G4S, saying it’s “no longer in the public interest” to continue the decade-old case.
The Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation in 2013 into allegations the company had overcharged by millions of pounds on contracts to monitor offenders using electronic tags.
In 2020, the company accepted responsibility for three counts of fraud and agreed to pay a financial penalty of 38.5 million pounds, plus legal costs. Shortly afterwards, three G4S executives were charged with fraud.
They pleaded not guilty and had yet to stand trial. Then on Friday, prosecutors dropped the case.
“The defendants have been under suspicion for 10 years and the prosecution are only too aware of the impact the proceedings will have had on them and their families,” prosecutor Crispin Aylett said. “We recognized the potential unfairness of asking that this should go on for a substantial period of further time.
“We regret the way the case has turned out.”
A judge at London’s Central Criminal Court on Friday formally acquitted former managing director Richard Morris, former commercial director Mark Preston and former finance manager James Jardine.
Jardine’s lawyer, Joanna Dimmock, said the fraud office had “wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money whilst three men’s lives have been ravaged and put on hold for nearly a decade.”
Morris said outside court that he was “delighted” that the ordeal was over, but blamed the fraud office for accepting an “untrue narrative” put forward by G4S when the company acknowledged responsibility for fraud.
“From the outset, the allegations against me were plainly wrong,” he said. “That it has taken 10 years for the SFO to acknowledge as much is a scandal.”