SFO to appeal High Court decision over Holbein super-case

SFO to appeal High Court decision over Holbein super-caseThe Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to appeal the High Court’s ruling that one of the Government’s longest and most expensive prosecutions should be dropped.

SFO director Richard Alderman (pictured) today announced that he had authorised an appeal to the Court of Appeal in the alleged NHS fraud case against five drug companies, otherwise known as Operation Holbein.

An SFO spokesman said: “Mr Alderman acknowledges the representations made by some of the parties in this case and as an independent prosecutor acting within the code for crown prosecutors, Richard Alderman will continue to review the case and will take account of any change in circumstances that may affect the prosecution following any judgment by the Court of Appeal.”

In July, Mr Justice Pitchford ruled that the action against the five drug companies should be halter as at the time of bringing the action price-fixing alone was not an offence. Pitchford J refused permission to alter the indictment and held, therefore that the case had to be abandoned.

For the SFO winning this appeal is crucial as it has invested eight years into bringing the case to trial.

The appeal, which will be head on 3 December and is set down for three days, comes just months after the Office had its appeal over the BAE fiasco upheld (TheLawyer.com, 30 July).

For a list of legal advisers see “Heavyweights ready to rumble” (TheLawyer.com, 14 January).