‘Follow the money’ is a rather clichéd line from the film ‘All The President’s Men’ which charted the scandal that engulfed President Nixon in the 1970s.
But even today, the money trail is very much the first line of investigation in serious fraud cases, and one that is increasingly difficult to follow.
Not so long ago, the ways of committing fraud were somewhat limited and for that reason also somewhat simplistic.
That can no longer be said, as financial markets spanning the world transfer billions of pounds during each hour of trading. Bitcoin and other emerging ‘crypto currencies’ complicate the picture even more.
Swaps, derivatives, forwards, securities, bonds, secondary markets… We could go on and on…
Why does this matter?
It matters to us as lawyers, as a mere understanding of the law is not enough for the successful defence of these complex cases, your lawyers must understand first and foremost the environment in which the crime has been said to have been committed.
Your lawyer must confidently speak ‘your language’
What is shocking, however, is that in a recent high profile case a purported expert witness for the prosecution was so out of his depth that he had to ask advice on basic financial terms.
The Court of Appeal observed:
“It’s not a matter to be downplayed when the Crown in a major prosecution calls a witness who is wholly out of his depth.
We take a very serious view of what in the judgment we will describe as a debacle, whatever the outcome.
We want to know how did it come about that he was instructed when he lacked expertise? We are very concerned as to how he can have been instructed, the due diligence, and how it came to light.
We are troubled by it.”
This particular witness was exposed by what has been described as a ‘devastating cross-examination’ by a defence barrister.
While the appeal courts are there to correct mistakes, it does not mean that every trial error will result in acquittal.
It is therefore vital that things are right the first time.
This requires a defence team who truly understand the business of international finance, who can unravel the complexities of your case, and can work as a team with top advocates capable of ‘devastating cross-examination’.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More
Forensic Testing Scandal – Is Your Conviction Safe?
New details have emerged about forensic testing deficiencies at two of the country’s leading laboratories. Police are currently investigating the circumstances, and a number of people have been arrested.
Randox Testing Services (RTS) and Trimega Laboratories handle samples for some of the most high-profile criminal and family law cases, the accuracy of the tests being of paramount importance to people facing criminal prosecution for offences ranging from drink driving to murder.
‘Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences.’
It is believed that the results from as many as 10,000 tests could be under question.
Is Your Conviction Safe?
If a conviction in your case rested wholly or partially on the reliability of forensic tests, it is essential that you seek further legal advice.
While the Crown Prosecution Service will be carrying out a review into criminal cases, this will take a considerable period of time, and many will question whether the body that brought the prosecution in the first place is ideally placed to make decisions as to the safety or otherwise of a conviction.
Those affected will, therefore, wish to consider whether any further forensic testing ought to take place, and even whether or not there are grounds to appeal. All convictions will need to be considered on a case by case basis.
Even if your cases did not involve the two laboratories currently under investigation, this scandal throws a spotlight on the hidden world of forensic testing and calls in to doubt results from other forensic testing providers.
How We Can Assist
Regardless of whether we handled your case initially our experienced team of lawyers has the expertise to ensure the safety of your conviction is beyond question.
If you believe that inaccurate forensic testing may have led you to be wrongfully convicted (and that includes pleading guilty to an offence), please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email@example.comRead More
The Guardian reported on Sunday that Turkish officials in London for meetings with the Prime Minister and other members of the Government are expected to raise the question of the extradition of a number of Turks wanted in connection with the failed 2016 coup.
A number of wanted persons are now said to be in the UK. This includes members of a group known in Turkey as the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation. This group is said to be associated with the US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who has been in exile for a number of years.
The Turkish authorities have made a number of extradition requests since the coup, many to Germany and the US. In January, a Court in Greece refused to extradite eight Turkish air force officers who flew to Greece in a Turkish military helicopter in July last year.
As with the deposed Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, there are likely to be a number of obstacles for Turkey to overcome before anybody is extradited there.
Current extradition bars for Turkey
Turkey is, of course, not part of the EAW scheme but has been designated as a category 2 territory in this country. As such, anybody wanted by Turkey could be extradited. However, similar bars to extradition apply as in the case of an EAW, and a requested person is also protected by the Human Rights Act and the ECHR, including under;
– Article 3 which guarantees the right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
– Article 6 of the ECHR which guarantees the right to a fair trial
– Article 10 which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and
– Article 14 which prohibits discrimination on, amongst other matters, political views.
Any successful extradition request to Turkey would have to be approved by the Home Office before it could take place. Although there are very limited circumstances in which the Home Secretary can intervene (and none which would, on the face of it, apply in a case such as this) it is likely to be a very politicised decision. No doubt Amber Rudd is hoping that for once the Courts do what she would want them to do and spare her the difficulty.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor
Image attribution: Maurice Flesier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsRead More
An Interpol red notice is used to locate a person who is wanted for the purpose of extradition. There are in fact eight different coloured notices issued by Interpol, providing different information about people. A Red Notice is only issued when there is a valid national arrest warrant or other judicial warrant. It does not give the power to arrest someone, it simply informs other countries that a person is wanted in the requesting country, either to be prosecuted or to serve a sentence.
Once Interpol receives a request, and they are satisfied that everything is in order, the notice is published. It serves to alert police around the world and makes, for example, international travel very difficult.
Some countries choose to make some information publicly available. The UK does not, but you can find a list of UK citizens wanted elsewhere in the world.
Around 8,000 Red Notices are published each year, for a wide variety of offences, not just very serious ones. However, it cannot be used to search for people wanted for politically motivated offences for example; offences of a political, religious, military or racial character are specifically excluded from Interpol’s remit.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More
The latest Ashes series between the cricket teams of England and Australia began today. There was a noticeable absentee from the England team, Ben Stokes. You may remember that Stokes was arrested in the early hours of 25th September on suspicion of ABH. Shortly after that, CCTV allegedly showing the incident was widely circulated in the media, and two key witnesses finally came forward towards the end of October.
Released under investigation
After his arrest and interview, Stokes was ‘released under investigation’. In April 2017 legislation aimed at reforming pre-charge bail came into force. An officer of the rank of Inspector or above can authorise pre-charge bail for a maximum of 28 days. In limited circumstances, this can be extended for up to 12 months.
The stated aim of this change was ‘to stop people remaining on bail for lengthy periods without independent judicial scrutiny of its continued necessity’. In practice it has made no difference at all. Suspects are now simply released under investigation, with no idea at all when a decision is going to be made about their case. At least under the previous regime, suspects were given a bail date and there was an expectation that some progress may have been made by the time that date came around.
Stokes’ case is typical of the delays within the criminal justice system. This is, on the face of it, not a complicated case. There are very few witnesses, there is good quality CCTV footage of the incident and the suspects have been quickly identified, arrested and interviewed.
Over 8 weeks have passed since the incident. During that time Stokes, like many suspects, has been effectively suspended from work and faces uncertainty about his career. The others involved, complainants and witnesses also face uncertainty over whether they will need to go to court and give evidence.
Whether he is guilty or not, Stokes and others in his position deserve better than being held in limbo like this.
If you would like advice about a criminal case, please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
In some instances, it is possible to apply to a court and ask that a driving disqualification is ended early.
Therefore, if your circumstances have changed since being disqualified, it is worth discussing with one of our criminal law specialists whether or not you can take advantage of this legal provision.
What are the rules?
You can ask the court to reduce your disqualification period after you’ve been banned from driving for:
– 2 years – if the disqualification was for more than 2 but fewer than 4 years
– Half the disqualification period – if it was for between 4 and 10 years
– 5 years – if the disqualification was for 10 years or more
We are often asked by clients who have been disqualified for a second drink-driving offence whether they too can apply. The answer to that is yes, although the application will be complicated as the High Court has stated:
“I would only add that justices … may if they think fit regard a mandatory disqualification as one which they are somewhat less ready to remove than a discretionary disqualification.”
But it will depend, as always, on the individual circumstances of the case, in Boliston v Gibbons (1995) for example the High Court showed itself to be very sympathetic to the applicant’s plight.
What are the criteria?
The law states that:
“On any such application the court may, as it thinks proper having regard to—
(a) the character of the person disqualified and his conduct subsequent to the order,
(b) the nature of the offence, and
(c) any other circumstances of the case, either by order remove the disqualification as from such date as may be specified in the order or refuse the application.”
In essence, what needs to be established is that there is some compelling reason why the ban should be brought to an end, such examples include employment opportunities, reliance on a vehicle for caring responsibilities, personal immobility etc.
Will the application be opposed?
It is very rare for an application not to be opposed, so we work incredibly hard to ensure that an impressive argument is put before the court.
Merely turning up and throwing yourself on the mercy of a court is unlikely to result in a return of your driving licence.
If the application is refused, can I make a further application?
Yes, you can re-apply again but must wait at least three months from the date of refusal.
How we can help
We can assist in preparing and presenting your application to the court. Our experienced team have significant advocacy expertise and are best placed to secure the return of your driving licence.
Is legal aid available?
Legal aid may be available subject to a means test. Private representation is available at competitive rates.
Contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
As we put Halloween and Bonfire Night behind us, easing into those dark wintry nights, it isn’t long before Christmas is in our sights and party season gets underway.
As night follows day, this time also coincides with a national police initiative concerning drink driving, as forces across the country prepare for a spike in the numbers of those tested and arrested for drink and drug driving offences.
While these offences may not seem particularly serious when viewed against other offences, what is not often understood is the real impact that a conviction can have.
Research shows that loss of a licence leads in a great many cases to loss of employment, in turn to loss of housing as bills cannot be paid, and sometimes it is the final straw that breaks a relationship. The financial costs will be felt for many years thereafter as insurance premiums will be greatly increased.What we also see is that a great many people come before the courts with alcohol readings that are not high, and where offences have been detected the ‘morning after’. Offences that can be said to have been committed perhaps more out of ignorance than a wilful disregard for others.
A single error of judgment with devastating consequences.
What is a safe level of drinking if I propose to drive?
No alcohol is the safest level as it ensures that when you get behind the wheel, your reactions are not impaired to any degree at all.
Crucially it also prevents the guesswork that brings so many people before the courts.
Urban myths such as ‘2 pints are ok’ have long since been proved to be false, as have back of the envelope guesses as to how long it takes alcohol to leave the body.
Different people will deal with alcohol in different ways, and even this can vary for a single person depending on a multitude of factors. The alcoholic content of drinks is generally greater nowadays, and measures of, for example wine, bigger than before.
Merely feeling OK to drive is not a reliable indicator as to whether you are below the legal limit or not.
As we get merry, we reach a tipping point; we can make foolish choices that will prove costly, sometimes not just measured in financial terms but in injury and even loss of life.
You do not hear a lawyer say this often – but we do not wish to see you this Christmas.
Think, before you drink and drive.
How we can assist
If you do find yourself in trouble, there is a lot we can do to assist.
The police must follow complex procedures to establish a case against you – we can ensure that this has been done.
We can also investigate issues such as ‘laced drinks’ and ‘special reasons’.
Well-presented mitigation can make a real difference to the outcome and even where a disqualification cannot be avoided, we can often achieve a reduction in length.
Since 13th November, it is now an offence to fail to tell a Magistrates Court or Crown Court your nationality. Anyone committing this offence can be sentenced to up to 6 months imprisonment; the same as for offences such as common assault, assaulting a police officer and driving whilst disqualified. The maximum sentence is twice as long as the maximum sentence for criminal damage with a value of up to £5,000.
It has been suggested that as defendants already give their name, address and date of birth, there is no real difference in providing their nationality. But a defendant is asked to give their name and date of birth to confirm their identity, and their address so the court knows where to find them if they need to contact them or they don’t turn up. No matter how you try to dress it up, being asked to provide your nationality is simply a way of making it easier to identify foreign criminals so the authorities can try to deport them.
The Government themselves have said:
“Where an individual is identified as a foreign national offender this will allow the Home Office to begin consideration of deportation action as quickly as possible. We are absolutely committed to removing foreign national offenders from the UK and continue to work closely with international governments to increase the number of prisoners deported.”
It is difficult to see how a non-UK national can have confidence in a justice system that has, as one of it’s stated aims, a desire to deport foreign criminals. Whether or not there is bias, there is certainly going to be an appearance of bias. Why should it matter at a first appearance what someone’s nationality is? There is no justification for seeking that information at that stage. If the deportation of foreign criminals is the aim of this legislation, then why can the court not wait until after conviction, and after sentence has been passed, to enquire?
The current crisis in Catalonia has produced an interesting extradition issue, involving the former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his colleagues, some of whom have left Spain and taken refuge in Belgium; are all of the offences they are charged with actually extradition offences?
Puigdemont and his colleagues face a number of charges, including ‘rebellion’ and ‘sedition’, as well as allegations of the misuse of public funds. There have been suggestions that some of the offences may not be extradition offences, and as a result extradition cannot be ordered.
The European Council Framework Decision of June 2002 sets out a number of offences where it is not necessary for the Requesting State to show that they would also be offences in the Executing State. ‘Rebellion’ and ‘sedition’ are not included in that list. The Framework decision goes on to say that for other offences, ‘surrender may be subject to the condition that the acts for which the European arrest warrant has been issued constitute an offence under the law of the executing member state (i.e. Belgium). Whilst we do not claim to be experts in Belgium law, an article on the Flanders News website quoted an expert in Belgium criminal law, Frank Verbruggen saying that the offences are also offences in Belgium law; ”In Belgian law these crimes enjoy a broad definition. This case will probably pass this test.”
In the Extradition Act here, one of the statutory bars to extradition is known as ‘extraneous considerations’. It reflects the rights enshrined in various European Treaties and Charters, and bars extradition if it appears that the warrant ‘has been issued for purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions’ or that a person might be prejudiced at trial because of any of those matters.
In extradition from this country, this bar is most commonly used for requests from Russia, and other former Soviet countries, where there is a suggestion that people are being targeted purely because of their political opinions.
It is perhaps obvious that there is a political element to all of the charges, given the disputes between Catalonia and the Government in Madrid. Whether or not that will be sufficient for Puigdemont and his colleagues to avoid extradition remains to be seen.
The consequences of the High Court decision in Grecu and others earlier this year are now being seen in other cases relating to Romanian prison conditions. In that case, the High Court ruled that extradition to Romania could only go ahead if the Romanian authorities were able to show that a requested person would be held in a cell with at least 3 square meters of space. This week, a Romanian client of ours was successful in his appeal after the Judicial Authority conceded that they could not provide a satisfactory assurance that our client would be held in appropriate conditions. As a result, he was discharged and released from custody.
It is important to note that this is not necessarily the end of the matter, either for this client or for others in his position.
The EAW can still be issued in other countries, so if he travelled elsewhere in Europe he could be arrested there. Depending on the extradition law in that country, he could still be extradited. The EAW could be reissued in this country, if Romania are ever able to sort out their prison system. The domestic arrest warrant is still valid in Romania, so if he went back to Romania he could still be arrested there.Read More