Before joining the Serious Fraud Office in 1988, Wardle has worked as an assistant solicitor in private practice, prosecuting solicitor in Essex and Cambridgeshire and for the Crown Prosecution Service.
At the Serious Fraud Office he has worked as a case controller, assistant director in 1992, head of policy division between in 1996, moved to an operational division in 2000, attorney general in 2002 and then director in 2003.
Whilst director, Wardle took the controversial decision of dropping an investigation into bribery allegations made against Britain's largest defence contractor, BAE Systems, over an arms contract with Saudi Arabia last December. It dropped the case on the advice of Lord Goldsmith, the then attorney general, causing many to question the credibility of the SFO.
He resigned from his role at the Serious Fraud Office in 2008 and was appointed consultant at DLA Piper UK Management Services Ltd, where he will work in the firm's corporate crime and investigations practice, advising clients who are either facing investigation from regulatory authorities or who fear there may be matters to investigate within their organisation. The role was approved by ACOBA "subject to the conditions that, for 12 months from his last day of service, he should not become personally involved in any of the firm’s casework or in lobbying UK Ministers or Crown servants, including Special Advisers, on behalf of his new employer or their clients."
- New SFO Director - Robert Wardle Serious Fraud Office, 20 April 2003, accessed 26 November 2014
- 'I like shooting things' The Telegraph, 15 July 2007, accessed 26 November 2014
- Maggie Urry Former SFO chief joins DLA Piper Financial Times, 5 May 2008, accessed 26 November 2014
- Tenth Report 2008-2009 Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, accessed 26 November 2014