Jessica Fino 7 Feb 2018 04:52pm

Tesco trial abandoned as executive suffers heart attack

The trial of the Tesco executives being accused of fraud and false accounting has been abandoned after one of the defendants had a heart attack

The 18-week trial was discarded after Carl Rogberg, Tesco’s former UK finance boss, suffered a heart attack.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charged Rogberg, as well as former managing director of Tesco Christopher Bush and former UK food commercial director John Scouler, with one count of fraud by abuse of position and one count of false accounting stemming from their roles in a scandal where Tesco was found to have inflated its profits by £326m.

The three men pleaded not guilty at a hearing on 3 August. They were facing prison sentences of up to seven and 10 years if convicted.

A SFO spokesperson said, “We are considering our options for a retrial and will put our decision to the court in due course.”

Judge Deborah Taylor discharged the 11 juries saying it would not be “right and proper” to continue with the case.

Neil O’May, representing Rogberg, said his client was devastated about the news that the trial was abandoned.

But the judge argued that the jury would be influenced either if they were told about the director’s heart attack or not.

“The jury have come back expecting to go ahead, and the additional factor of Rogberg’s absence, in my judgment is likely to influence their decision. If they’re told that he has had a heart attack, it may influence it one way. If they’re told less than that, it may influence it another,” the Financial Times reported her as saying.

Last month, Scouler’s lawyer Ian Winter told the court that his client actually helped uncover accounting irregularities at the supermarket despite being accused of trying to cover it up. He claimed to have ordered Amit Soni, the original whistleblower, to investigate issues with the reporting of income from the supermarket’s suppliers.

Meanwhile, it emerged today that Tesco could be forced to pay £4bn over an equal pay claim.

A legal challenge has been brought against the supermarket claiming that hourly-paid female staff working in its stores are paid less than men despite the value of the work being comparable.