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MAY
02

Beware, a voluntary police interview is not a cosy chat with the authorities

police interviewThere has been a substantial culture shift by police since 2014, in particular, towards the use of voluntary interviews of suspects, rather than interviews under arrest, which are necessarily protected by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). There are a number of reasons for the huge increase in the use of these voluntary interviews:

(1) The implementation of Code G of PACE on 12.11.12 which according to ACPO (The Association of Chief Police Officers), requires investigating officers to adopt a more considered approach to the necessity of arresting suspects;

(2) The hard hitting budgetary cuts suffered by the public services, including the police, which were previously cut to the bone are now cutting right through it, have persuaded police that a cheaper option to the costs of arrest and detention would be to focus upon the option of voluntary interviews instead.

It also means that if a particular investigation does not get funding for prosecution during one particular financial year, it can be rolled over onto the next without having to justify why the suspect is on bail for lengthy periods of time. Police are often waiting on forensic tests of computers and phones before they can make a charging decision. Terrorism and sexual abuse allegations take priority in these situations;

(3) The enormous criticism levelled at police when investigating hacking, sexual abuse and serious fraud investigations about the length of bail periods (see above), which attracted critical publicity when it involved individuals in the public eye. The then Home Secretary, Theresa May, was a very vocal critic of lengthy bail periods which led to a 2015 Home Office consultation on the subject;

(4) That Home Office consultation led to bail reform provisions within the Policing and Crime Act (in force as of 03.04.2017), more about these new bail provisions later.

 

What is a voluntary police interview and what are my rights?

  • Let's begin with what should and could happen; You receive a call at work or home from a police officer asking that you attend for a voluntary interview either at a specified police station, or even your home or work place.

  • You may panic and ask if you are in serious trouble, should you bring a solicitor with you? You should be advised why they are not arresting you at this stage, that you are entitled to free legal advice (as provided by Legal Aid police station representation). They must not interview you about the allegations/investigation outside the formal interview situation.

  • They should assess whether you are vulnerable and if you have any special requirements for interview such as an interpreter or appropriate adult. Perhaps you need need frequent breaks during interview or a hearing loop, for example.

  • Police should set out the purpose, aim and objectives of the interview and advise you that you can terminate an interview at any time.

  • You can ask for disclosure of information about the allegations and investigation, but that will only be provided to your lawyer. Please also note that there is no strict entitlement to such disclosure.

  • You should be told about the nature of the offence which they are investigating and that in order for the allegation to be investigated properly, you must be interviewed under caution.

  • They should say that arrest may not be necessary if you attend voluntarily, but if you fail to attend at the agreed time or decide to leave the voluntarily interview then they may arrest you.

  • They may also arrest you if new information comes to light, after they have made the initial voluntary arrangements.

  • The interview will be recorded, even if taken at home or at work.

  • You will be cautioned at the beginning of the interview and that will be repeated during the interview for various reasons.

 

What may you hear from police instead?

Many of our clients have been told the following:

''It's only a quick interview to hear your side of the story'' ..... ''If you insist upon a lawyer attending, it will take much longer and you are likely to be here all day'' ..... ''Why would you need a lawyer if you have nothing to hide?'' ..... ''We just want you to help us with our enquiries, we are completely impartial''.

We have had any number of clients, including professionals, who have been left with the very firm understanding and impression that police are considering them as potential prosecution witnesses before attending a voluntary interview, only to find themselves served with a summons to attend court as a defendant after the investigation has been completed.

 

What should you do if you are asked by police to voluntarily attend an interview with them?

  • Stop panicking and think clearly, find and instruct a good, genuinely experienced lawyer to assist you. An experienced solicitor will make contact with the officer and clarify the situation about the voluntary aspect of the interview, the agreed location and time. S/he will want to know from them why have they decided not to arrest, the nature of the allegations and ask for written disclosure in advance so that s/he can take instructions from you upon that disclosure.

  • They will assess if you have important issues to raise as part of your defence during interview (alibi/witnesses/emails/texts/documents), whether you have any special requirements and whether you should answer questions or draft a 'considered statement' as part of your defence.

  • They will explain the police caution and its significance. Only a genuinely experienced, specialist lawyer, with a proven track record, can fully assess the situation and advise upon it.

  • The police station interview is the cornerstone of any prosecution and defence, it is therefore vital that you are fully advised before and throughout the interview. It will be very difficult to undo any mistakes that you may make in interview concerning an important detail or aspect of your defence during trial, indeed you will be cross examined about any mistake that you may have made and it will be used against you.

Are there any advantages to a voluntary interview?

In truth there are not many advantages; you are unlikley to be placed in a police cell, if the investigation results in no further action you can answer any DBS check or a question about whether you have ever been arrested for a criminal offence, truthfully. This is very important for those who work in strictly regulated jobs or professions e.g. If you are FCA authorised. 

If the police decide you to arrest you wrongfully, once you have been offered a voluntary interview or more recently when they decide to execute a full S.18 search when the voluntary interview was on going, then case law has decided that you will have an actionable cause against them.

A voluntary interview means that there is little control over the progress and length of the investigation, they are often allowed to drift on and on.

After interview police are supposed to inform you that a decision about the case will be made at a later unspecified date.

We have noticed that increasingly young people, and even adults facing very serious allegations of sexual offences, money laundering and serious fraud are now subject to voluntary interviews.

Very often clients are not informed when a decision to take no further action on the investigation is made, or as stated earlier when they suddenly receive a summons to attend criminal proceedings at court. Instructing a pro active solicitor means that s/he can continue to place pressure on police to come to a decision earlier, and that you are fully informed of the progress of the investigation.

If on the other hand you are interviewed after arrest the PACE clock kicks in, which determines how long you can be detained, you come before an experienced Custody Sgt who is responsible for your treatment and welfare. There are a certain number of specified protections enshrined with that statute.

 

New bail revisions in force

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 brings in new provisions governing police bail but it's our belief that in fact police will increase their dependence upon voluntary interviews because of these new onerous and expensive provisions.

The police must now release an individual without bail unless they believe that bail and conditions are attached to that bail are 'necessary and proportionate'. Those who are bailed are likely to be only bailed for a period of 28 days unless a senior officer agrees to an extension of that period to three months. If they require a further period of three months then they must apply to the Magistrates Court, these are going to be very rare cases.

The FCA and SFO are exempt from these provisions because of the complexity of their often multi jurisdictional investigations and the time that these entail. They can have extensions of up to three months at a time, without a review, and a senior officer can authorise a further period of six months. However, we have noticed that all of our clients currently facing these allegations are not on bail at all.

The police bail provisions and extensions are for police investigation only, and do not apply to the time that the CPS take to consider potential charges.

The Magistrates Court, when seized of an application to extend bail must take the following into consideration:

1. That the investigation and decision to charge is being conducted diligently and expeditiously; 
2. That there are reasonable grounds to believe that further time is necessary; 
3. That further bail is necessary and proportionate taking into account any bail conditions.

 


If you are asked to attend a voluntary police interview and require the best advice from leading specialist criminal defence lawyers, contact us on 02073872032 or use our online enquiry facility at www.lewisnedas.co.uk.

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28

Non Recent (historic) sexual abuse investigations in Sport under Operation Hydrant

One of the relatively new strands of investigation under Operation Hydrant will focus upon allegations of non recent sexual abuse in Football, as a result of the allegations made by 20 high profile, former Premier League footballers who waived their right to anonymity. 

Sexual abuse allegations have been made worldwide in relation to nearly every sports discipline. 

Operation Hydrant is a Nationwide Police and multi - disciplinary operation, co- ordinated by the Association of Chief Constables. It focuses upon 'non recent' (historic) sexual abuse allegations that are over a year old.

Currently the Metropolitan Police (Sexual Offences, Exploitation, and Child Abuse Command ) are investigating over 255 allegations of sexual abuse across every amateur and professional football league in the Country, some 248 clubs in all. 

Over 500 complainants have made allegations against 184 potential suspects, and there are currently 526 alleged victims involved.

The FA is also co- operating in full with Operation Hydrant and launched their own independent investigation towards the end of 2016.

The NSPCC in December 2016, were quoted as stating that they received three times more victim reports in the first days after setting up their specific helpline than they did after the Saville Abuse scandal broke.

So it's accurate to say that all the relevant authorities are taking these allegations seriously.

What to do if you are being investigated for non recent sexual abuse?

You have probably received a telephone call from police asking you to attend a voluntary interview or they have arrived at your home or workplace in order to arrest you.

The first thing is to try and stay calm, it is vital that you immediately seek assistance from genuinely experienced specialist defence lawyers, who have a proven track record in this field.

Put aside any embarrassment or shame that you may feel, you need assistance with this issue.

Ensure that you have a lawyer attend with you during the interview.

If the police have indicated that they want to interview you, voluntarily by appointment, make arrangements so that you sit down with your chosen lawyer and give her/ him full instructions before the interview if possible.

If you have been falsely accused of these allegations, intentionally or otherwise, do you have an alibi for any of the dates that the complainants raise? Are there wiling competent defence witnesses who can attest to your innocence?

Has this complainant made allegations, false or otherwise against you or others that you know about?

Should your defence team be considering third party disclosure requests from sports organizations, schools, doctors / hospitals and social services - a good lawyer will be thinking about that  at the beginning of the process, though these particular requests will be made at a later stage in the trial proceedings, should the case proceed that far. 

The police station interview is of vital importance to defendants, if you answer questions it's imperative that you provide clear accurate information that can be tested and verified. 

Your lawyer will seek as much disclosure from the interviewing officers as possible, be alive to the fact that you are not entitled to any or full disclosure at all, so that is a delicate process that needs to be handled carefully. 

Do not be persuaded by police to go into the interview without legal representation, they will often say that they just want a quick chat.... waiting for a lawyer will only delay things and that they want you to get home as early as possible.... that they want to hear your side of things.... or if it's possible that you could just help them with their enquiries. 

Don't be fooled...you will be interviewed under a full caution, you don't have to answer questions but adverse inferences can be made at a later stage during trial proceedings if you fail to raise important issues as part of your defence.

Your lawyer may advise that you sign a carefully drafted ' considered statement ' which addresses important issues, instead of advising you to answer all police questioning.

Additionally, if you are guilty of some or all of these offences, developments in the Law of Sentencing now place huge emphasis upon the stage that admissions to the allegations are made by the defendant.

For example if a defendant admits all during the police station interview stage s/he will be entitled to the maximum discount on a custodial sentence.

The Courts hand down huge sentences in these cases, (please refer to The Sentencing Guidelines on Sexual offences, published by The Sentencing Council for England and Wales) so it's an important consideration and one upon which you must take expert advice.

These cases are highly emotive, complainants are treated as vulnerable witnesses and can give evidence behind screens and or via video link. Their evidence can be highly distressing to all those involved. 

Following the Saville Abuse Enquiry, the police and general public have changed their attitude to sexual abuse allegations, the police now work on the basis that the complainant, (to whom they will refer to as the victim throughout the process) is telling the complete truth. 

This despite the recommendations of Sir Richard Henriques whose report (An Independent Review of the Metropolitan Police services handling of non recent sexual investigations alleged against persons of Public Prominence - 31.10.2016) advises that Police return to established and effective investigating techniques, which include the testing of the Complainants evidence for veracity and consistency. 

How to choose the best lawyer for you?

First of all decide whether you will want to apply for legal aid or pay privately (some firms will only work on a private fee basis), Do you want to instruct a local firm or decide to look further afield?

Do your research...look for the best firms who are highly ranked in the Legal ranking Directories ( legal 500 and Chambers Uk ) Carefully scrutinise their Google rankings, clients testimonials, their websites and their case results. 

You need to instruct the very best, most experienced, hardworking lawyers who will fight tenaciously upon your behalf, but are still prepared to give you direct honest plain speaking advice when it's required.

Look for lawyers who are genuinely pro- active and will thoroughly investigate your defence, leaving no stone unturned.

Remember the consequences of a conviction.... long period of imprisonment, placement on the Sex Offenders Register and the distinct possibility of civil proceedings instigated by the complainant against your assets are just some of the consequences that you will face.

Additionally your career, reputation, family, friends, colleagues and employers will also be severely affected. 

How can we at Lewis Nedas law help you?

You will have probably already seen from our website (www.lewisnedas.co.uk) that we are a long established, highly experienced successful team of specialist defence lawyers.

Within that team we have another specialist team who regularly defend sexual offence allegations.

Some of our successful cases are detailed on our website (see Criminal cases and results section) but by no means all, they give an indication of our defence work.

We are very experienced: when dealing with multiple complainant cases, allegations that go back decades : identifying relevant witnesses and supporting documentation : navigating our way through difficult third party disclosure applications  and generally forcing the CPS to disclose ALL relevant material that could assist your case.

We fully understand the sensitive and delicate approach needed when cross examining  complainants who are often members of the same family, peer group, former pupils or students Perhaps they belonged to the same sports, social clubs or schools?

Is there any suggestion that their evidence could be tainted in any way by this association?

We are very keen that we should all work closely with the client as part of a team and listen carefully to the clients instructions and requirements.

We instruct the very best advocates and barristers that you can afford, and insist upon using leading Forensic Psychiatrists, psychologists, medical, handwriting, computer, CCTV, telephone and documentary experts/analysts to support your defence.

We are highly ranked by the Legal 500 and Chambers Uk (for many many years) within the London and Nationwide legal market (London being the toughest and competitive of legal market in the Country), have won any number of legal awards, and have given expert advice on television, radio and in the press.

Some of our team members have consistently high acquittal and overall success rates (including sentences), another was a member of The Sentencing Council and worked on the final Sentencing Guideline on sex offences, another defended six of these cases last year and secured 5 acquittals and an excellent sentence for a sixth client facing high profile allegations, who entered an early guilty plea to offences involving some of his pupils.

If you feel that we can help you please contact us on 02073872032 or use our online contact form.

 

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MAR
14

Jurisdiction and Post-Brexit Britain

brexit 1Several EU initiatives have harmonised the cross-border litigation rules applicable across the European Union. But what will happen to these rules post-Brexit? And how will the UK adapt its own rules to meet a post-Brexit Britain?

Read the Article here.

 By Annabelle Pantling.

 

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MAR
07

New Enhanced Penalties for Driving Whilst Using a Mobile Phone

mobile drivingOn the 1st  of March 2017 the law changed in relation to using mobile telephones and other hand held devices whilst driving a motor vehicle.  There is now a mandatory minimum endorsement of 6 points and a fine of 200.00 pounds. Previously the offence carried 3 points and a 60.00 pound fine.

The offence is committed if a hand held device is held whilst it is on. So even if the driver is not seen by police to be speaking into a phone or sending a message he can still be convicted for driving whilst using a mobile phone. The reason for this is that a phone can still be in “use” by virtue of the fact that it is receiving data.

However, the police have to prove that it was on whilst being held by the driver. This is a matter of evidence that will have to be served on the defence and relied  on in court. This can involve a trial and the instruction of an expert. At Lewis Nedas Law we have team of experienced solicitors and court room advocates who specialise in road traffic offences and can help you with this highly  technical and complex area of law.

The fact that the endorserable penalty points have increased to a mandatory minimum of 6 will place 1000’s of drivers with 6 points already on their licence in a precarious position. The reason for  this is that if  you tot up 12 points within 3 years you face a 6 month disqualification. A driving ban can have far reaching effects both financially and socially. It can, however be avoided if a court determines that the driver would suffer exceptional hardship.

The courts do not routinely accept exceptional hardship applications. They have to be expertly presented at court and supported with both oral and documentary evidence. The solicitors and barristers that Lewis Nedas Law has at it’s disposal are highly effective at presenting these types of cases at court. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you find yourself in this position, we can help.

 

Contact Our Specialist Driving Offences Defence Solicitors

Call us today by calling 0207 387 2032 or by email through our online enquiry, here.

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FEB
14

City Financers get 47 Years for Corruption

Following a five-month trial at Southwark Crown Court, a former senior HBoS manager and his associates recently received jail sentences totalling 47 years for their involvement in a £250 million loan scam.

The case, which concerned corrupt and fraudulent behaviour from ten years ago, followed a six-year investigation and the examination of nearly 500,000 documents, serves as a reminder of the ‘long arm of the law’, as well as the sophisticated investigative methods and prosecution techniques deployed by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division when trying to secure a conviction in complex cases.

In this blog post, we take a brief look at the case and provide an overview of when corrupt behaviour may be found to amount to criminal conduct. At Lewis Nedas, our partner-led Serious Fraud team has vast experience defending clients involved in complex fraud and corruption cases. Our multifaceted approach, including a dogged pursuit of Crown disclosure and in-depth forensic analysis of evidence, marks our Serious Fraud lawyers out as a distinctive and progressive team that takes special care to protect our clients’ interests. For more information on how we may be able to assist you or your business, please contact us.

A corrupt elaborate fraud scheme involving ‘deliberate mismanagement’ and ‘plunderings’

Earlier this month, Judge Beddoe sentenced David Mills (a consultant and financier) to 15 years’ imprisonment, Lynden Scourfield (a former HBoS manager) to 11 years 3 months, and their associates (Michael Bancroft, Mark Dobson, John Cartwright and Mill’s wife Alison) to between 3½ years and 10 years for their roles in a complex fraud carried out between 2003 and 2007.

The scheme involved Scourfield, in return for cash and gifts, requiring his clients (businesses in financial difficulty) to engage Mills as a consultant in order to obtain further lending from the bank. Large amounts of money were then advanced to these businesses, which then paid high consultancy fees to Mills and others, despite there being very little chance of the debt ever being recovered.

Commenting on the case, Specialist Prosecutor Stephen Rowland, from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said:

“Many people have had their lives ruined by the corrupt behaviour of Lynden Scourfield, David Mills and associates.

 

“Scourfield worked in a section of his bank which was supposed to help struggling businesses but instead, motivated by greed, he went about stripping them of their assets.

 

“This was a complicated prosecution due to the volume and complexity of the financial transactions and the large sums of money involved. But in the end thanks to the work of prosecutors and investigators the jury were left in no doubt that the actions of these six defendants were criminal.”

A Brief Overview of the Law of Corruption in England & Wales

There is no single, specific offence of corruption under the criminal law of England & Wales; instead, criminally corrupt behaviour is captured by a range of statutory and common law offences. For instance, the defendants in the case mentioned above were charged and convicted of, amongst other things, conspiracy to corrupt, conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime and fraudulent trading. Four were also disqualified for over 10 years under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

When the alleged criminal conduct occurred also determines which offences will be charged. This is because although the Bribery Act 2010 repealed much of the common law, introducing a modern and particularly strict approach to the issue of corruption and bribery, some conduct alleged to have occurred prior to the Act coming into force (1 July 2011) will be caught by the older law, such as the Prevention of Corruption Acts.

Despite these nuances, and very broadly speaking, any conduct that involves the giving of a financial or other advantage in connection with the improper performance of a function connected to the public, business or professional sectors, whether or not it is carried out in the UK, will amount to an offence.

The UK’s anti-corruption legislation is also very far-reaching. Both the Bribery Act 2010 and Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 arguably have near-universal jurisdiction. Under the 2010 Act, an individual or company may face prosecution if they have links with the UK. While the reach of 1906 Act was extended even further by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to cover cases where agents and principals have no connection with the UK.

Taken together, this presents a complex legal framework capable of catching many different types of conduct, in many different jurisdictions. If you have reason to believe you or your business may be connected with an incident of corruption, it’s vital to act fast and get expert legal advice and representation to mitigate the potential consequences. At Lewis Nedas, we can help you navigate the complex legal framework relating to bribery and corruption. We have vast experience and offer specialist legal advice and assistance in relation to compliance, investigations and prosecutions.

Lewis Nedas Law – Specialist Business & Financial Crime Defence Solicitors London

Our expert Serious Fraud team has over 30 years’ experience successfully defending clients against fraud and financial crime allegations. We are also ranked in Chambers and the Legal 500 for the high quality of our fraud work, and our expert solicitors are described as 'precise', 'steely determined' and 'always mindful of securing the best outcome'. Our specialist financial crime & fraud solicitors, based in the heart of London, therefore have extensive experience of preparing successful defences to fraud prosecutions, including corporate fraud, whether these are brought by the Crown or a statutory body such as the FCA or the Department of Business innovation and Skills. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or contact us online.

 

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