Ex-fraud chief attacked over payouts

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The former director of the Serious Fraud Office came under fire yesterday for allegedly sanctioning severance payments to senior staff totalling almost £1m without getting the necessary approval.

Richard Alderman was grilled by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee just days after the publication of a scathing inquiry into the payments, commissioned by his successor as head of the SFO, David Green.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge described some of Mr Alderman’s actions as “shocking and against every principle of how public service organisations should operate”.

The SFO’s former chief executive, Philippa Williamson, left last year with a severance package of £464,905, while former chief capability officer Chris Bailes received £473,167 and technology head Ian McCall £49,885.

The exit package for Ms Williamson, totalling more than three times her salary, was so unusual the National Audit Office qualified the SFO’s accounts. And Mr Green yesterday revealed that the Treasury has blocked Mr Bailes’s ex-gratia payment as “irregular”.