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Business Comment

Anthony Hilton: SFO is in a hole but it just goes on digging

There is surely something flawed in the decision by the Serious Fraud Office to hire Slaughter & May, the most expensive solicitors in London, to lead its defence against the action for wrongful arrest and damages brought by property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.

The SFO clearly mishandled the case against him. It hyped up his arrest in the media so the public impression was that they had a major fish on the line.

But the case barely got through a day in the courts before the judge threw it out, said it should never have been brought and lambasted the SFO for a catalogue of basic and elementary errors.

Why can't it simply admit it was wrong and settle?

Instead it has hired the most expensive lawyers in town, and will no doubt hope they can spin it out for years just in case Mr Tchenguiz gets bored and goes away.

The former Labour Chancellor, Dennis Healey, once said that if you are in a hole it is best to stop digging. The SFO should have heeded this advice. It certainly should not be digging at our expense with Slaughter & May wielding the shovels.