‘No case to answer’ as judge slams SFO case against former Tesco executives

The Serious Fraud Office has seen the collapse of the trial of former senior Tesco executives over a £250m accounting scandal after a High Court judge slammed the SFO’s £10m case, saying it was so weak in certain areas it should not have been brought before a jury.

Mr Justice John Royce ruled that Christopher Bush and John Scouler have no case to answer over alleged financial misreporting that saw Tesco overstate its profits by more than £250m in 2014.

The Court of Appeal on 5 December upheld the decision by the Judge that there was insufficient evidence for a jury to consider in respect of the individual defendants on trial and ordered an acquittal.

The judgment comes after Tesco Stores Limited accepted responsibility for false accounting practices through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) in March last year, the details of which remain subject to reporting restrictions.

A third defendant, Carl Rogberg, was severed from this trial.

Mr Bush said “serious questions should be asked about the way in which the SFO has conducted this investigation”.

The SFO said it is considering whether to pursue a retrial in light of the judgment.

This week’s ruling comes just weeks after the High Court also upheld a decision to dismiss a SFO prosecution against Barclays Bank in relation to its 2008 Qatari fundraising before it went to trial, although its case against four ex-senior Barclays executives is due to start in January.