The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has today published a first update on the delivery of the recommendations in Sir David Calvert-Smith's independent review (the review) into the SFO's failings in the Unaoil case.

The review made eleven recommendations, which were accepted by the SFO.

The AGO update states that for nine of the eleven recommendations, the SFO has already implemented specific measures or steps to ensure their effective delivery. For the two remaining recommendations, work has commenced to make changes in response to the review's proposals. The SFO has made significant progress towards better record keeping, case assurance and resourcing.

The first recommendation made in the review was that there should never be a gap between the departure of one SFO director (DSFO) and the arrival of the next; that an incoming DSFO should have any identifiable gaps in their knowledge or experience filled by their superintending ministers and the AGO, and there should never be such gaps between the departure of General Counsel and the arrival of a successor. 

The progress report states that the AGO and SFO are taking steps to ensure the requirements of this recommendation are fully met with regards to the recruitment of DSFO Lisa Osofsky's successor. Her five-year tenure expires in August 2023.

However, it is to be noted that the AGO has discussed with Lisa Osofsky the possibility of a short extension to her term if that is necessary to avoid a gap and/or assist with the induction of the new Director. 

In relation to the recommendations regarding disclosure obligations, (disclosure failings led to the 3 successful appeals in the Unaoil case), measures and steps have been put in place to deliver certain of these but it "will be necessary for the SFO to assess the impact of the measures over a longer time period". However, as to whether there should be a change in the current approach to the management of disclosure following defence requests, "the necessary steps to deliver this recommendation have commenced. The AGO will continue to ensure the Guidelines are effective, taking into consideration the views of the SFO, and the SFO will keep its disclosure processes under review". 

The effective implementation of the review's recommendations is a significant work in progress.

The SFO has also published an update on its progress against the recommendations set out in Brian Altman KC’s independent review of R. v Woods & Marshall (Serco) which was also published on the same date as the Calvert-Smith review. 

Please click here to listen to our podcast on the SFO failings in the Unaoil case.