§ Lord Kennet
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether it is the case, as reported in the Independent on 3rd July, that within the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) "parent firms confirm prior to a secondment that secondees (from accountancy and law firms to the SFO) will advise the SFO of any potential conflicts of interest": what are the grounds for this assumption of trustworthiness; and whether no other vetting of "secondees" takes place before secondment takes place.
§ The Lord Chancellor
The Serious Fraud Office has a policy of appointing at Assistant Director level a small number of senior accountants seconded by leading accountancy firms. Prior to such an appointment the parent firm will be asked to confirm that its secondee will advise the SFO of any potential conflict of interest. One of the conditions of the terms of appointment is that the secondee will disclose to the SFO all possible conflicts of interest as they arise. This accords with professional practice. No lawyers have been seconded to the SFO by law firms. All potential secondees, in addition to being interviewed, are required to complete the same forms as other applicants for Civil Service posts. These include a character inquiry form which is used as part of the vetting process.