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Boss who led Serco through decade-long turnaround to step down

·2-min read

The grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, Rupert Soames, is to step down from his role leading Serco, a company that holds millions of pounds worth of contracts with the Government.

The chief executive said “it is now time to outsource myself” after nearly a decade at the business.

The outsourcer will instead be led by Mark Irwin, a private equity veteran who has been at Serco since 2013.

Mr Soames was seen as a steady hand when he took the reins at a troubled Serco in 2014. The news of his appointment sent shares up by 10% at the time.

It followed four months without a permanent chief executive in place at the company after Christopher Hyman left in the wake of a Government contract scandal.

The business agreed to repay more than £68 million for overcharging on a contract to provide electronic tagging of offenders. The company had been charging to tag prisoners who were later found to be dead, in prison or overseas.

A subsidiary later took responsibility for three counts of fraud and two of false accounting after an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

This is what Mr Soames had to deal with when he arrived at the company nine years ago.

“Serco is unrecognisable from the business that he joined in 2014,” said chairman John Rishton.

“Under his leadership, the business was stabilised, a clear strategy developed and executed, which has resulted in the strong and successful business it is today.

“Rupert should be really proud of what he has achieved.”

Mr Soames said: “It has been the privilege of my working life to lead Serco for the last eight years, but it is now time for me to outsource myself.

“My respect and admiration for the wonderful team of people at Serco, who work so hard to deliver superb public services and value for money for taxpayers, is unbounded, as it is for Serco’s customers, who are dedicated public servants facing the immense challenges of delivering high-quality public services in difficult times.”