Serious Fraud Office won’t investigate phone-ins

The Serious Fraud Office has said it will not carry out an inquiry into the TV phone-in scandals.

The SFO had considered allegations over phone-in programmes and competitions, including shows like BBC One’s Eurovision Song Contest. The SFO also looked into ITV programmes and competitions involving the use of premium rate services.

But a statement from the SFO said on Wednesday: “After full and careful consideration the director considers that none of these meet the SFO criterion for acceptance for investigation.”

The SFO was also asked to look at Opera Telecom Ltd, the telecommunications operator contracted by GMTV Ltd to manage competition entry systems, as well as Big Game TV Ltd.

It decided not to investigate the cases of Big Game TV and GMTV in February.

In making its decision not to investigate, the SFO considered the programmes looked into by Ofcom in its Broadcast Bulletin and Adjudications on May 8.

In May, Ant and Dec handed back an award and ITV were hit with a record £5.67 million fine after details of a massive TV phone-in scam were made public.

The report into 2005’s British Comedy Awards revealed that organisers promised pop star Robbie Williams he could present Ant and Dec with an award if he appeared. The report also said the actual winner should have been The Catherine Tate Show. There was no suggestion that Williams or Ant and Dec were aware of ‘any of these issues’.