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SFO to lift clear-up rates; invents new case in Ambridge

"Serious Fraud Office questioning Archers' Matt Crawford over possible fraud in Ambridge"

That's the headline from a real piece of PR sent out by the real Serious Fraud Office about a probe into the activities of a well-known but fictional British businessman.

For those of you not steeped in this quintessentially English institution, the Archers is a long-running BBC radio drama about the daily ups and downs of life in a fictional farming village called Ambridge.

According to the PR, one of the SFO's "most experienced investigators" was brought in to advise the show on a storyline in which businessman Matt Crawford is woken from his sleep to find local police and SFO investigators at his door.

They question him about the possible defrauding of a bank by Crawford who they allege dishonestly represented Chalkman Crawford Capital Partners as solvent when he knew it was not.

With the financial system in meltdown and new multi-million pound frauds popping up all over the place you'd think the SFO's senior investigators would have enough on their plates without inventing fictional cases to deal with.

With serious fraud on the rise, the SFO has been coming under increasing pressure to deliver more successful prosecutions

SFO Director Richard Alderman recently told the Independent newspaper: "This is the year that I am expecting delivery. I am expecting to send out some very strong messages as a result of what we are getting out into court."

Will the Archers give him the success he's looking for? I wouldn't hold my breath. Matt Crawford's a bit of a rogue, but he's also one of the more popular characters on the show. If he wriggles out of it, this could be an unfortunate case of fiction imitating life - and not the best of adverts for the SFO's sagging crime-busting credentials.

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Paul Penrose

Paul Penrose

Head of Research

Finextra

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