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Hearing set into 'irregular payments' by SFO

Former chief executive officer of the U.K. Serious Fraud Ofice Phillipa WilliamsonA U.K. oversight panel will hold a hearing to investigate huge severance and pension payments from the Serious Fraud Office to its former CEO.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee is examining more than £1 million in separation payments to at least three former staffers, including £422,000 to Philippa Williamson, the SFO's former chief executive officer.

A one-day hearing will be held next month, according to the Daily Mail.

'Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has also asked that the [National Audit Office] carry out a broader investigation into the payments,' the paper said.

Director David Green last year called for an investigation into the payments, calling them an 'unjustified expenditure.'

Green and former director Richard Alderman are expected to be called as witnesses at the hearing next month, the Daily Mail said.

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said the payments 'have damaged not only the SFO's already limited finances, but its reputation as well.'

The terms of Williamson's separation from the SFO were agreed less than a week before Green took over from Richard Alderman in April last year.

The SFO reportedly didn't seek approval from the Treasury, as required for large severance payments.

In a statement released last year, the SFO said after Director Green learned of the payments, he 'asked the Treasury Solicitors Office to conduct a full independent inquiry.'

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