These are probably the most difficult and complex of sexual allegations to defend, because of the age of the allegations (we have successfully defended allegations that were said to have originated over 50 years ago) and the loss of potential defence witnesses and evidence.
The potential ramifications for an individual facing such a situation can be enormous, s/he may be suspended from work, removed from their families (particularly where young children form part of the family situation) relationships can break up under the strain of such an investigation.
Very often these allegations are based upon the statements of one complainant, though the police prefer to charge where there is more than one complainant or independent supporting evidence (eg Social Services, medical or school reports) The allegations cover a wide range of circumstances for example inter - familial, professional, former sexual/romantic relationship, school, neighbours, family friends, and can take a considerable period to investigate. Post Saville, the authorities now take every sexual offence allegation seriously and will investigate thoroughly.
I have just received a telephone call from police inviting me in the police station for interview, the officer will not reveal the nature of the allegation, what shall I do now?
Instruct an experienced, specialist Criminal defence solicitor, as soon as possible and arrange an urgent meeting with him/her (virtual/telephone or in person) preferably in good time before your appointment at the police station.
If you have been arrested at home/workplace you can ask for a local duty solicitor to represent and advise you when you arrive at the police station, or a family member/friend/colleague can contact a lawyer for you.
Rarely do Police arrest at home/work place, in cases of non-recent sexual allegations, but it can happen.
The lawyer upon arrival at the Police station, will seek pre interview disclosure from the interviewing officer, which will be very limited. Remember that strictly speaking you are not entitled to disclosure, that is entirely within the discretion of the interviewing officer, who will drip feed information and detail during the interview. You will not be allowed direct access to the Complainant’s video interview/statement known as an ABE (assisting best evidence).
Think calmly and carefully about who can have made those allegations, any potential defence witnesses, possible alibis, photographs, communications (digital or otherwise).
If you have been falsely accused of such an allegation, it is important that is made clear at the outset of any interview.
Your lawyer will assess the situation, take instructions from you and advise whether you should answer questions in interview or give a written Considered Statement, detailing your denial and any defence that you have.
You are entitled not to respond at all.
After interview you are likely to be released upon conditional bail, with residency or non-contact conditions.
The police will, even when dealing with non-recent allegations ask to download your devices, seize your devices and demand your PIN number (you must seek legal advice on this point because there are serious consequences should you refuse).
They may also, depend upon the circumstances of the case take DNA from you.
Will the police release me upon bail?
Generally, yes they will, because these type of allegations take time and careful scrutiny.
There are imminent changes on the horizon for pre charge bail - sch 4 Crime, sentencing and Courts Act 2022 that you must be aware of.
Essentially there will be more use of conditional pre charge bail the complainants’ views on bail will have to be sought by police and the initial bail period will be for three months, that can be extended to nine months in subsequent extensions. After which the police must go to the Magistrates Court to seek a further extension. Standard cases which are later classified as exceptionally complex or those cases designated as non-standard cases can have bail periods extended for up to twelve months before police can seek at further extension from the Magistrates Court.
We would expect historic sex allegations to fall within the non-standard category. At the time of writing, police extensively release individuals under investigation (RUI) for years.
What happens after the initial police interview?
It all depends upon the conditions attached to your pre-charge bail, you may have to leave the family home, deal with draconian Social Services protocol which will invariably apply if there are children within your family/relationships, possible suspension from work (particularly in the case of professionals working with children) and reports to your professional regulator, if appropriate.
You will not be allowed to contact the complainant(s) or prosecution witnesses, whose identities you will be given.
You should them try and prepare your defence and look for evidence which supports your defence.
Work with your lawyer throughout this process, who will consider writing a letter of representations to the police, if s/he feels that the allegation has not been made out or there is evidence will prove your innocence.
Such letters can, in the correct circumstances, be very effective and can lead to an investigation being abandoned.
We have a long history of successful resolution of such investigations as a result of writing Letters of Representations, written by senior, highly skilled specialist lawyers over the last forty years.
If the decision is made to charge you, these cases are invariably tried in the Crown Court by specialist Judges and a jury.
Sentencing historic sexual allegations
Please refer to The Sentencing Council Sentencing Guidelines upon sexual offences, which a sentencing Judge must follow unless specific and limited circumstances apply.
There is a specific section on Historic sexual offences which require careful reading.
There is, at the time of writing, a new Sentencing Guideline consultation underway.
Be in no doubt that allegations that result in conviction, generally lead to custodial sentences.
Other consequences of a conviction
If convicted, you will also be placed upon the Sex Offenders Register and could face a civil claim for damages brought by the complainant.
What can we do to help you?
We have genuinely been successfully defending these type of allegations for decades, and have a highly regarded (Legal 500 and The Times Best Law Firms) ranked and rated, team.
They work with leading specialist barristers, forensic experts and expert witnesses and have a genuinely highly rate of acquittals and stopping such prosecutions through the use of letters of representations, for example.
Paying for lawyers
This can be a huge worry for those under investigation and facing trial. Legal aid which is carefully means tested by the Legal Aid Agency, is available for individuals and a grant of legal aid can be made subject to an income / capital contribution order.
A number of our team do work on legal aid rates, others will only do so on a private fee paying basis only.
Our private fees are priced at mid-market rates (for the London legal market) and will often work on a fixed fee basis, which provides certainty for the client. Many of the leading specialist barristers and experts, that we instruct, will only work upon a private fee paying basis.
Examples of our recent results in this particular field
R v L (Oxford Crown Court) 2022
Acquittal (inter family allegations 21 years ago).
R v B (Isleworth Crown Court) 2022
(Employment related allegations, attracted National publicity) acquittal.
R v C (Southampton Crown Court) 2021
(Numerous historic sex abuse allegations made by members of the defendant’s family) acquittal.
Re P 2022
Investigation by Met police info allegations made by former pupil of an internationally known UK Public school against a teacher. Investigation dropped after representations made on behalf of our client and submission of important evidence disputing the allegations to the investigating officer.
Re H 2022
Lancashire police enquiry, allegations between siblings, dating back 35 years, letter of representations led to conclusion of police investigation.
R v C 2021
Client faced 8 counts on indictment of historic rape and sexual abuse of biological daughter, acquitted of all counts.
R v Z 2021
Client faces three counts of historic sexual abuse of a child, acquitted of all counts.
R v Sv 2021
Client faced 20 counts on indictment of historic sexual abuse on a sibling and several other females (unrelated) acquitted upon all counts.
R v C 2021
Historic allegations concerning two school friends, rape and assault by penetration. Evidence of the complainants deemed unreliable and a successful submission that there was not a case for the client / defendant to answer was accepted by the Crown Court Judge.
R v W 2020
Successfully advised and represented a college lecturer, who faces allegations over 50 years old, by a former student who alleged rape and an abusive relationship. Strong letter of representations sent to the Metropolitan Police and the investigation was dropped.
R v L (ongoing)
We are currently advising a former University Professor facing historic allegations re a relationship which he had with a student.
R v J (ongoing)
Historic allegations siblings’/family friends of rape and sexual abuse, currently under investigation.
R v H (ongoing)
Advising a professional man facing historic allegation of rape and sexual abuse, currently under investigation, complainant a former pupil of his.
Contact Lewis Nedas’ specialist defence team for historic sexual abuse allegations in the UK
At Lewis Nedas we have developed specialist knowledge and experience in representing individuals accused of having committed historic sexual abuse. Our team are acutely aware of the impact that being faced with such allegations can have on people, and their families. Our defence team will conduct a comprehensive review of all of the evidence that is being used to support the allegations made against you. Our approach to criminal defence work is distinctive among our competitors, in that we are willing to test prosecutor’s case to its limit: if there are anomalies or weaknesses in any line of argument, our team will expose and exploit it.
If you have been charged with having committed historic sexual abuse and are in need of specialist, effective legal advice, speak to our team today. We will work with you to ensure that you are afforded the best legal representation possible, and will ensure that you are appropriately advised at every stage of legal proceedings. Contact us today and see how we can help you.