11/16/2017 - UK News: Fit to be an expert wItness?: Expert that sent text messages during questioning now under scrutiny

The families of three convicted Libor traders have asked the Justice Committee to look into the Serious Fraud Office's "selection, retention and oversight" of an expert who was employed for more than £410,000 to testify during the Libor trials.

Ex-Barclays bankers Jay Merchant, Alex Pabon and Tom Hayes, the first trader to be convicted of rigging Libor, have asked Justice Committee chair Robert Neill to investigate the SFO with it's use of expert witness Saul Haydon Rowe, according to a letter signed by their families and reported by The Daily Telegraph.

"It is unclear the extent to which the SFO adequately investigated Rowe's qualifications, expertise and fitness to identify as an expert witness in a complicated, high-profile criminal trial," read the letter, which was sent to Mr Neill on 10th of November.

Contention was caused earlier this year after former trader Mr Rowe, whose firm was paid more than £410,000 by the SFO for him to appear in High Court Libor trials, said he had texted people for help understanding some of the terms used while testifying.

Approx 100 of Mr Rowe's emails and texts were disclosed by the SFO during the retrial of former Barclays traders Ryan Reich and Stylianos Contogoulas, with both acquitted of conspiracy to defraud. The messages showed he was "not an expert" and ignored directions not to talk to anyone about his evidence, the letter contends.

It is the third time the families have written to the Justice Committee with concerns over the handling of the trials, but the first time they have sent a letter specifically calling for a probe into the SFO's choice of expert witness.

The move comes months after reports were sent to the Metropolitan Police over Mr Rowe's credibility as a witness by some Libor traders. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is also deciding whether to refer Mr Hayes' case back to the Court of Appeal in light of the questions now surrounding Mr Rowe.

The letter sent on Friday was signed on behalf of the traders by their families as Mr Merchant is currently serving a six anda half year prison sentence for rigging Libor, a benchmark used to value trillions of pounds of financial products around the world, while Mr Hayes is serving 11 years in jail though Mr Pabon was released in March.

The rigging scandal erupted in 2012, when Barclays was fined £290m for its role in trying to manipulate the benchmark, rocking the banking industry. The Financial Conduct Authority wants to erase Libor as the main index in the market by the end of 2021.