Tesco executive 'devastated' as heart attack ends fraud trial

A former Tesco executive on trial for fraud has said he is "devastated" that the case was thrown out because he had a heart attack.

Carl Rogberg, 51, was standing trial alongside former colleagues Chris Bush, 51, and John Scouler, 49, at Southwark Crown Court.

All three were accused of failing to correct inaccurately recorded income figures for Tesco which were published to auditors, other employees and the wider market.

The case, which began in September, is believed to have cost the taxpayer more than £5 million, with 31 days of evidence and 72 days in court.

It was plagued by delays and finally collapsed on Monday after Rogberg was rushed to hospital.

John Scouler, Carl Rogberg and Christopher Bush  (Hannah McKay/PA)
John Scouler, Carl Rogberg and Christopher Bush (Hannah McKay/PA)

Rogberg said he was desperate for the trial to continue in his absence and had waived his right to attend.

Speaking outside court, his lawyer Neil O'May said: "Mr Rogberg is devastated at the news that the trial has been aborted.

"He was always very anxious that the jury should be allowed to reach its verdicts and is desperately sorry that they were prevented from doing so."

The Serious Fraud Office is considering if the case should go to retrial, with the earliest possible start date being in September this year.

Judge Deborah Taylor was due to begin summing up on Monday but instead discharged the jury, thanking them for their patience.

"In the circumstances it would not be right or proper to continue with this trial and therefore I am discharging you from further dealing with this case," she said.

"It has been a long period and I know it must be quite frustrating for you not to come to a conclusion at the end of all your hard work during the course of this trial."

Nicholas Purnell QC, representing Rogberg, told the court he was rushed to hospital on Thursday after suffering a major heart attack.

He is due to have quadruple bypass surgery this week after three blockages were found in his heart.

Mr Purnell had asked for the trial to continue in Rogberg's absence and said: "I think he would be utterly devastated to discover that as a consequence of what he has been through, there's a possibility that the trial has to start again."

Judge Taylor ruled that it would be unfair for the trial to carry on without him, because it could prejudice the jury if the panel was told why he was not in court.

"In the circumstances, and I have to say with considerable regret, I have concluded that, although Mr Rogberg has waived his right to attend trial, the fact is that the consideration of the trial being fair is more important," she said on Monday.

"Therefore the only proper course is to discharge the jury at this stage."

A decision on if the case will go to retrial is expected on March 2.

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