The government has confirmed that its plan to abolish the Serious Fraud Office has been shelved for the foreseeable future.
The Conservative manifesto committed to disbanding the SFO and incorporating its responsibilities into the National Crime Agency, which was set up during Theresa May’s tenure at the Home Office.
There was no mention of the proposal in last week’s Queen’s Speech, however, prompting speculation that the idea had been dropped.
Attorney general Jeremy Wright today suggested that the government was rethinking the idea.
“The government is continuing to review options to improve the effectiveness of the UK's response to economic crime, and any measures resulting from this work will be announced in due course,” he said in response to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Catherine West.
Wright added: “The government is committed to strengthening the UK's response to bribery, corruption, money laundering, fraud and other forms of economic crime.”
The Conservative manifesto had said merging the SFO and NCA would “strengthen Britain’s response to white collar crime” by “improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime”.
But the proposal came under fire from a string of senior figures within the Conservative party.
Sir Oliver Heald, who was Solicitor General until the post-election reshuffle, said the independence of the SFO was “very important”.
And Bob Neill, Conservative MP and former chairman of the Justice Committee, said a number of his colleagues had “serious misgivings” about the policy.