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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Pre-sentence Reports

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In some cases, a court must order a pre-sentence report (s 156 Criminal Justice Act 2003), and a report will be appropriate in many instances when it is not a legal requirement. Sometimes a court may not be receptive to the idea of ordering a report, so we are always alive to the necessity of having a robust line of argument ready to advance in this regard.

The primary purpose of a report is to:

‘…assist the court in determining the most suitable method of dealing with an offender’.

Reports can, therefore, be a significant part of sentencing, and it is surprising that some people, including some lawyers, appear to consider them only in passing. 

Our view is that clients need to be fully prepared for the report process.

 

Why is preparation essential?

The report is an opportunity for defendants to advance significant mitigation well in advance of their advocate standing up to mitigate formally on their behalf. 

As reports are often (although not always) supplied in advance to sentencing magistrates’ and Judges, it is an early opportunity to try and influence, positively, the sentencing outcome.

A Judge will always be looking for signs of regret and remorse, not just because they were brought to justice, but because they have genuine victim empathy and regret their actions.

Report writers will be looking for evidence of insight into offending, as that often provides compelling evidence of an individual’s willingness and ability to change behaviour. Such positive signs might weigh heavily in a decision to impose a community penalty as opposed to custody.

In cases where a person does not wish to evidence remorse, for example, because they are maintaining their innocence, it will generally be better to say nothing than suggest that they do not care.

It is also vital not to implicate yourself in criminality more severe than for which you were convicted. If this does happen, all parties will need to ensure that the proper process is followed (see, for example, cases such as Cunnah (1996) 1 Cr App R (S) 393).

In appropriate cases, we will robustly challenge assertions made by the report author (for an extreme example see R (S) v Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Service [2014] EWHC 3154 (Admin)).

It may also be necessary for us to apply to cross-examine the author of a report to challenge assertions that are being made (Green [2002] EWCA Crim 2075).

As you can see, we take sentencing reports seriously and will offer you detailed guidance and support to ensure that all opportunities to secure the most favourable sentencing outcome are taken.

 

How we can assist

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Animals – Disqualification from Keeping

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Section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states that a court may make an order disqualifying a defendant from keeping animals.

When can the order be made?

The defendant must have been convicted of a specified offence under the Act (section 4, 5, 6(1), 6(2), 7, 8 or 9).
The purpose of the order is not to punish the offender; The sole purpose is to protect the future welfare of other animals (Barker v RSPCA [2018] EWHC 880 (Admin)).
When considering the making of a disqualification order regard can properly be had to previous convictions (Ward v RSPCA [2010] EWHC 347 (Admin)).

 

What is the scope of the order?

Disqualification can include one or more of the following parts:

Part 1
(a) from owning animals,
(b) from keeping animals,
(c) from participating in the keeping of animals, and
(d) from being party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept.

 

Part 2
(a) disqualifies a person from dealing in animals.

 

Part 3
Disqualifies a person –

(a) from transporting animals, and
(b) from arranging for the transport of animals.

 

Disqualification may be imposed in relation to animals generally, or in relation to animals of one or more kinds.
In R (RSPCA) v Guildford Crown Court (2012) the court held that whilst ordinarily the exclusions contained in [Part 1] must be included as part of a disqualification order, it may be appropriate not to do so if the defendant’s human rights would be infringed.
It is not permissible when making a disqualification order to allow for the keeping of a maximum number of animals (R (RSPCA) v Chester Crown Court [2006] EWHC 1273 (Admin), a case based on section 1(1) Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954, which was couched in the same terms as section 34 of the 2006 Act).
This case also emphasises an important point in relation to the making of a discharge as a way of avoiding disqualification in an appropriate case.

 

Can an order be avoided?

We realise that orders of this type can cause significant distress and upset; it is vital that all the safeguards in case law and legislation are followed before such orders are made.
If you face proceedings for an offence under the 2006 Act or have been made subject to an order of this type and wish to discuss whether it can be challenged, get in touch with one of our specialist team.

 

How we can assist

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Online Abuse, Courts Keep Up with Modern Techniques

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In Chabloz v Crown Prosecution Service [2019] EWHC 3094 (Admin) the High Court dealt definitively with several highly technical legal challenges concerning Communications Act defences.

On 25 May 2018 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court,  Alison Chabloz, was convicted of three offences under section 127(1)(a) and (b) of the Communications Act 2003. She appealed her convictions to Southwark Crown Court, but on 13 February 2019 her appeal was dismissed. She then appealed by way of judicial review.

 

What were the charges?

The first two charges against the applicant in the present case were that on or about 28 September 2016, contrary to section 127(1)(b), she had caused to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network, namely the internet, a message or matter that was grossly offensive, being a hyperlink on her blog to two performances of her antisemitic songs entitled “Nemo’s Antisemitic Universe” and “(((Survivors)))”. These songs had been performed by her four days earlier at a meeting of a right-wing organisation called the London Forum at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. The performances had been video-recorded and then uploaded onto YouTube.

She had not been involved in the uploading, but she had a free account with wordpress.com and had been allocated a subdomain entitled “tellmemorelies.wordpress.com”, a blog which allowed her to publish and manage multimedia content. On this blog site the applicant informed those looking at the site that she had performed the songs, and pasted a hyperlink which connected with the YouTube site and allowed immediate streaming of the London Forum video of her performances.

The third charge concerned section 127(1)(a). The applicant accepted that on 2 September 2017 she had uploaded the video of her performing another song called “I like the story as it is – SATIRE!” onto the YouTube website. This song was grossly offensive for the same reasons.

 

Appeal points

The claimant did not take issue that the songs were grossly offensive but submitted that the posting of a hyperlink was a neutral act which did not cause an offensive message to be sent. In respect of the third offence, she submitted that she had sent the video to a server in California, which was an inanimate object, so communication with it was not possible.

 

What did the Court say?

In relation to the hyperlink defence, it held:

“It is possible to approach Issue 1 in three different ways and reach the same conclusion: that, on the facts of this case, the applicant was properly convicted under section 127(1)(b). 

The first is by reference to ordinary common sense: the applicant told those looking at her blog that she performed these songs and that her performances had been uploaded onto YouTube. To facilitate their access to those performances, she pasted onto her blog page the hyperlink to the YouTube video. That was not in any sense a neutral footnote or a passive reference to something unconnected to her, but instead a direct signpost to the performance of her own songs. She was endeavouring to widen the distribution of her own material. 

It was the applicant who set in train the sending process. She used the internet to put in place an interface between the two websites (the embedded deep link between her blog and YouTube) which ensured the conveyance of the contents of a video from one to the other. The software created a direct link to where the video was stored and enabled immediate access to it by the push of a button. As long as it remained on YouTube, it was accessible via the applicant’s blog.

Moreover, the purpose of setting up the link was to cause the material to be sent. Without the applicant going onto the YouTube site, copying the hyperlink and pasting it onto her own wordpress.blog page, it would not have been possible for others to access the material from that location. The applicant put in place the process by which the video was sent, which is why it can be said that she caused the message to be sent. It is not tenable to argue, as Mr Davies attempted to do, that the Court should ignore all of that and to say that the causing of it to be sent was the act of the visitor to her blog who clicked on the hyperlink.

The second analysis of Issue 1 considers the posting of the hyperlink by reference to the decisions in Collins and in Chambers. As Lord Bingham stated in Collins, the aim of section 21 is to protect the integrity of a public service and to prevent it being a means by which grossly offensive material may be enabled. That is precisely what the applicant was doing here. In addition, the answering machine situation in Collins is directly analogous to the hyperlink here, and, as per Chambers, it makes no difference if the message (in this case the hyperlink to the YouTube video) was stored as content or as a separate message. I agree with [Counsel] that it would be wrong to place undue emphasis on the technology that was involved in achieving the applicant’s aim.

The third approach to Issue 1 is by reference to the non-binding authorities to which Mr Davies himself referred which dealt expressly with hyperlinks, albeit, as I have said, in the context of defamation. In my view, those authorities are not inconsistent with the approach that I have already outlined. On a proper analysis, both the Canadian Supreme Court in Crookes and the European Court of Human Rights in Magyar suggest that what might matter is the connection between the person posting the hyperlink and the underlying message. Was the defendant endorsing the underlying message, or was it just a footnote? There was room in both cases to say that the defendants were neutral hosts of current affairs sites who were not endorsing the particular message in question, but in the present case the answer is plainly different: the applicant was telling people that there was a video of her singing her songs and providing them with the means by which with one click they could access those performances. That was an unequivocal endorsement of the material.

During the course of his helpful submissions, Mr Davies attempted a number of analogies in order to advance his arguments, including references to blackmail letters sent from abroad, messages to the speaking clock and even a libretto prepared without the author’s permission. As my Lady pointed out during argument, in the modern digital age such analogies are unhelpful. The Court has to deal with the modern world as it is, in order to see whether or not the offence is created by this relatively recent statute have captured this particular type of behaviour. That is at root a relatively simple task, and analogies with other means of communication do not assist.”

 

The Californian server point

Counsel argued on her behalf that a communication could not be made with or to an inanimate object. Therefore, in relation to the third charge, he said that the sending of the video to YouTube’s server meant that there was no communication and therefore no basis for a conviction under section 127(1)(a).

This argument received short shrift from the Court, which held:

“In my view, this argument fails for four separate reasons. First, there is nothing in the Act to provide any support for the proposition that the message had to be received by a human being in order for the offence to have occurred. [Counsel] accepted that the intended recipient did not need actually to receive it, but maintained that there had to be such an intended recipient in the first place. Such a qualification would, in my view, be contrary to the words of section 127, which is dealing with individuals using a public electronic communications system to send or cause to be sent messages of a particular kind, and does not stipulate if, when, how or by whom any such message has to be received.

Secondly, assuming that [Counsel] is right and there had to be an intended recipient, it is wholly unrealistic to suggest that the video uploaded to YouTube was “a packet of data always intended for an inanimate object” (paragraph 39 of Mr Davies’s skeleton). In my view, it was no such thing: it was a video of a song performed by the applicant, uploaded to YouTube by the applicant, intended solely to be seen by other people. So there were intended recipients, and the criminal offence cannot disappear because the applicant used the YouTube platform as her chosen method of communication. 

Thirdly, I consider that [Counsel’s] contentions are contrary to Collins. Lord Bingham made clear that the offence was complete when the message was sent to the inanimate answer machine (see [8] of his judgment, which I have cited); what happened thereafter was irrelevant to the offence. Otherwise, as he pointed out, criminal liability would turn on the happenstance of, for example, whether the message was received by an individual or not. Moreover, in the light of Collins and the challenges of the digital age, I would suggest that John Stephenson J’s remark in Treacy v DPP [1971] AC 537, on which Mr Davies also relied, that the sort of demand with menaces required for blackmail “cannot of course be an offence if made to the winds” was not meant in a general way but went specifically to a necessary ingredient of the offence of blackmail. It is not applicable here, save perhaps to note that, 50 years on, it might be thought that sending messages to the winds (or certainly the clouds) was a prescient, if rather romantic, description of the internet itself.

Fourthly, [Counsel’s] submissions are contrary to the approach in Chambers, Kingsley Anthony Smith and Sutherland. There is no reason to depart from either the reasoning or the result in any of those cases. There is no reason at all to distinguish between Twitter and YouTube for these purposes. 

For these reasons, the fact that the message in question was sent to the YouTube bunker in California, rather than, say, to the applicant’s next-door neighbour, is irrelevant in law. The offence under section 127(1)(a) was made out when the video was downloaded to YouTube by the applicant with the intention that people might view it. That is therefore the answer to Issue 2.”

Our crime team carefully monitor all developments in case law and legislation to ensure our clients always receive the best advice. At all stages we seek to test the boundaries of current law in order to protect your best interests.

 

How we can assist

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

The Morning After the Night Before

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When people think about drink/drug driving, it is often based on a narrative that involves a man, leaving a pub late at night, driving erratically and being stopped by the police. This scenario is sometimes the backdrop to an arrest for drink or drug driving, but more often, the story is quite different.

The morning after the night before begins with a headache, followed by groans as the body and mind adjusts to the horrible thought that this is not a weekend, and work beckons.

A quick shower revives the senses and off to work you go. Traffic is heavy as usual, drivers as intolerant as ever, and the rain contributes only to a sour mood amongst drivers. Then bang – a relatively minor shunt causing minimal damage, to really kick start the day!

But it is often this kind of minor road traffic incident, causing road chaos and attracting the attention of the police that results in roadside testing for drink and drugs. 

The fact that you look great, feel fine, and are not responsible for the accident, will do nothing to mitigate the alcohol or drug levels in your body. Anyone who tells you that you can confidently predict alcohol or drug levels the morning-after is not telling the truth. 

What happens next makes the earlier headache pale into insignificance. 

An arrest, charge and court appearance resulting in a minimum period of disqualification. 

Will you keep your job? What will your partner say? 

The safest message remains ‘none for the road’; in some cases, there are legal defences available, and we can discuss these with you. When a legal defence is not possible, we work hard to mitigate the sentence and get your life back on track.

Your local police force will now have in place its Christmas and New Year drink and drug driving campaign, roadside testing will increase, and officers will be extra vigilant.

We hope that you do not need our services over the festive period, but if you so please be assured that we are here, on your side, 24 hours a day. 

 

How we can assist

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Divided Loyalty Can Exact a High Price

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A strange case at the Old Bailey drew to a close this week, resulting in a Metropolitan Police Officer, Robyn Williams, being sentenced to a community order with 200 hours of unpaid work, concerning the possession of an indecent video of a child.

On the face of it, the sentence is not at all surprising, some might think lenient, but this is not a usual case. 

The image was sent via WhatsApp to Williams (and several other people) by her sister, also a police officer, who was concerned about the image being circulated in the public domain. 

At no time was there a suggestion of any ulterior motive on the part of Williams.

 

So, what were the offences?

Williams was charged with possessing the image and also failing to report her sister. She was acquitted of the second charge.

The Jury found that Williams knew the content of the image, although she had claimed differently in evidence.

 

But is a person really criminally liable if someone sends them an unsolicited image via a messaging service?

The starting point is that if a person is knowingly in possession of the image, then that is an offence. The issue of ‘possession’ is in itself somewhat complicated, but that is not being considered in this article.

However, the various pieces of legislation that cover this scenario do provide a legal defence.

For example, section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 provides:

[It is a defence if…] ‘…the photograph was sent to him without any prior request made by him or on his behalf and that he did not keep it for an unreasonable time.’

So, the issue, in this case, was failing to do anything about the photograph in a reasonable time.

The judge, Richard Marks QC held that Williams had been sent the video unsolicited by her sister on a Saturday morning, by 7 pm that same day, she was aware a video was on her phone and of “its broad context”,

The judge said it was a grave error of judgment to do nothing, adding that, because of her experience as a police officer, she knew the imperative to act to safeguard the very young child shown in the video being abused by an adult.

By any measure, this is arguably a sad case for all concerned and will quite probably bring to an end a distinguished career in the police service. Others may feel that officers are to be judged to a higher standard. 

The salutary lesson for everyone is that if you inadvertently come into contact with illegal items, you should act quickly to protect your position.

 

How can we help?

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Innocent and Angry – A Measured Response Required

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It is a common occurrence to come across suspects and defendants who fee extreme anger at being caught up in the criminal justice process.

That anger sometimes spills over into the public domain, and the free availability of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can allow for an all too easy way to express frustration.

When those frustrations contain imply an attack upon the complainant, there can be repercussions in the event of a conviction. It is therefore ordinarily wise for accused persons, and those close to them, to maintain a dignified silence, no matter how hard that might be.

Former TV Presenter Stuart Hall incurred the wrath of the Court of Appeal, in respect to remarks he made in a public statement. He referred to the allegations against him as ‘pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious.’

 

The court observed:

‘Whatever legal advice the offender had by then been given, he knew the truth. He knew that he was guilty of molesting the complainants. As we have said, this deliberate falsehood is a seriously aggravating feature. 68. The offender was an expert in the ways of the media. He was fully alert to the possible advantages of manipulating the media. At that date he was hoping to escape justice and he was, as we see it, attempting to use the media for the purpose of possibly influencing potential jurors. Whatever it may or may not have done to influence any potential juror, we have a clear idea of what it did to some of the victims. One victim describes how the offender’s outburst “absolutely incensed” her. She felt furious about his blatant lies. There is a similar impression from another victim.’

 

In the case of Max Clifford who made numerous public statements proclaiming his innocence, the court said:

‘In passing sentence the judge referred to certain behaviour of the appellant. Some of it had been commented on in the victims’ impact statements. They had been upset by it. The judge said that the “additional element of trauma” caused by the applicant’s “contemptuous attitude” was something that he would take into account in passing sentence. 

 

The first statement was a forceful claim of innocence reflected later in the defence advanced, but not directly referring to the victims. The second statement was a reiteration of innocence followed by a vehement complaint about the fact that the victims were entitled to anonymity. The reiteration of innocence again did not directly impugn the victims. The complaints about anonymity relate to a feature of the criminal process. They concern a topic which arouses public debate from time to time and which has been the subject of different views in Parliament on different occasions. 

Whilst we readily understand that victims who were eventually vindicated would find such comments upsetting, we think that great care needs to be taken by sentencing courts not to elevate denials, albeit vehement, into something deserving of further punishment in the absence of some more explicit traducing of the victim. The court, of course, is perfectly entitled to reflect these matters in withholding available mitigation since the offender has shown no sign of remorse. Similarly, an offender who has contested the trial will lose what might be substantial credit for a guilty plea. We think that these remarks, properly considered, would of course justify a withholding of mitigation, but they should not have been used by way of positive aggravation.’

Taking these two cases together, it would appear that there is a fine line between statements that might reduce mitigation and those that may well aggravate the offence. Either-way, there may be a high price to be paid for making public pronouncements.

Before making any public statement about your case, it is essential first to take legal advice. We are well versed in the pros and cons of allowing a situation to play out in public and can advise you as to the best course of action.

 

How can we help?

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Playing Politics with Crime?

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We are in the midst of a general election, so it is perhaps not surprising that ‘law and order’ are featuring in the news as the main political parties fight for the popular vote.

While as a firm, we do not offer any party-political opinion, it is worthwhile taking a brief look at some of the recent announcements.

 

Child murder

The Conservatives propose that where a person aged at least 21 years murders a child under 16 years, the starting point should be a ‘whole life order’, meaning that they would never be eligible for parole. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 already contains measures in this regard, but this is, on the face of it, a tightening up of those provisions. On our assessment, if enacted, this provision is unlikely to impact on more than one or two cases each year.

 

Knife Crime

Knife crime remains high on the political agenda, and we have written about this topic in the recent past. The Conservatives propose changes to stop and search powers, with swift processing of those arrested before the courts. Any changes to stop and search provisions are likely to prove controversial, and there are concerns about whether the current resourcing of the criminal justice system is sufficient to cope with any radical new initiatives.

 

Policing

The conservatives have already announced the recruitment of 20,000 extra police officers, so it is a fair assumption that if this target is reached, and all other things remain equal, more people will be arrested and brought before the courts. Again, some resource implications remain unaddressed.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged a further £300m for local policing.

 

Parole Board

The Conservatives have announced further changes to practice and procedure, to make the process more ‘victim-centric’ and transparent. 

The Conservatives propose raising the ‘victim surcharge’ by 25%.

 

Is this a ‘Law and Order’ election?

The Conservatives have returned to a traditional ‘law and order’ theme, tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. As well as punishment, there are promises of better prison rehabilitation schemes and more robust non-custodial options.

Other parties do not lead on this issue in quite the same way, but all promise better resourced public services, which inevitably includes policing.

 

Keeping a watching brief

Whatever laws the next government brings forward, we remain committed to ensuring that the proper rights and protections afforded to all those we represent are safeguarded. We continue to be vigilant and ensure that any legislative developments that are brought forward do not infringe your fundamental rights and freedoms.

 

How can we help?

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

The Pizza Alibi

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On 10th March 2001, HRH Prince Andrew is alleged to have met and been photographed with a lady who has accused the Prince of sexual misconduct.

In a BBC interview, Prince Andrew throws ridicule on that suggestion and throws up two interesting observations in an attempt to establish an alibi:

“On that particular day that we now understand is the date, which is 10th March, I was at home, I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon.

“…and then because the duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there.”

Understandably, a member of the Royal Family may well remember a trip to Pizza Express, usual for the rest of us, but perhaps not a typical dining arrangement for the privileged few.

 

So, how does this stack up as an alibi?

In law, an alibi is defined as follows:

“…evidence tending to show that by reason of the presence of an accused at a particular place or in a particular area at a particular time he was not, or was unlikely to have been, at the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed at the time of its alleged commission.”

The fundamental problem with Prince Andrew’s account is that this alibi can only recover what must have been a relatively short period of time, the journey to/from (about 40 mins each way assuming the Prince was at his Windsor home) and time at the party itself (imagine 2 hours), so in total may be no more than 4 hours or so. 

Unless the timing of the allegation is such that it corresponds precisely with the time Prince Andrew claims to have been in Woking, this is evidentially of little significance.

The next part of his account is also an alibi and amounts to a not unreasonable claim that he was at home (presumably looking out for the children, although he neglects to say this) because his wife was away.

Again, as a starting point, this is not at all unreasonable, but we have a direct contradiction of accounts and a photograph which has not been established to be anything other than genuine at the moment. 

This clash of accounts would need to be tested by a jury.

In short, mere assertions of alibi tend to be almost worthless. A robust defence strategy would nail down the times, and look for corroborative evidence. A prosecutor might easily find numerous occasions where both family members are away and ask about childcare arrangements – it is by no means unusual for members of the Royal Family to employ staff to look after children.

Regrettably for the Prince, his TV interview established nothing over and above a bare denial, which he had already given. 

When our clients come to give an account on such a vital issue such as alibi, we ensure that a robust and detailed case is presented to the court. 

When reputation and liberty are at stake, you should leave nothing to chance.

 

How can we help?

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. 

If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Lies and Easy Money

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In a case this week involving Jet2 Holidays, Karl and Laura Hughes claimed that they had suffered sickness while on a package holiday. They said they had food poisoning as a result of eating contaminated food or drink or swimming in the hotel’s unsanitary pool. In witness statements, Mr & Mrs Hughes said that they became ill on the second day of their holiday and were acutely ill for the remainder of the holiday. The witness statements were sent to Jet2 with an initial letter of claim.

Jet2 looked at the social media accounts of Mr and Mrs Hughes. They saw photos and comments posted by them during the holiday, indicating they were physically well while away and had enjoyed their holiday. As a result, Mr and Mrs Hughes did not start proceedings against the company. 

Jet2 however, decided to ask the court to start contempt of court proceedings against Mr & Mrs Hughes. This was on the basis that the witness statements were false, relying on the social media posts.

Mr & Mrs Hughes denied that the information in their statements was false. They made further statements setting out that they had complained to the hotel manager, and despite their illnesses, they had “put up a front” that they were having a great holiday. The social media posts were not a true reflection of their mood at the time.

Initially, a court decided that proceedings for contempt of court could not be brought as the statements had not been served as part of court proceedings. A higher court did not agree saying that the test was whether the conduct in question involved an interference with the administration of justice either in a particular case or more generally as a continuing process.

The court went on to say that even though Mr & Mrs Hughes had not yet started proceedings when the statements were sent that they were still capable of interfering with the administration of justice. 

The issue of whether Mr & Mrs Hughes were in contempt of court has not yet been decided, but Jet2 now have permission to bring those proceedings. The moral of the tale is just because something does not happen “in court” does not mean that you cannot be in “contempt of court”.

 

What could happen?

If Mr & Mrs Hughes are found guilty of contempt of court, they could be sent to prison for up to 2 years or receive a fine.

It can be very tempting to make a false claim against an insurer, but they are now fighting back in the civil courts. In addition, you could face criminal prosecution for fraud, leading in some cases to a prison sentence and criminal conviction.

 

How can we help?

We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.

Tracking violent offenders

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A pilot is being carried out into electronic monitoring global positioning system. The aim of the pilot is to gain information to look at how existing and new electronic monitoring technologies could be used more effectively. A specific pilot is also taking place in London for offenders who have served a custodial sentence for knife crimes.

 

What is the pilot for knife crime offenders?

The pilot began in February 2019 and is now being expanded from 4 to 24 boroughs of London with up to 300 offenders able to be tagged in the 12-month pilot. The pilot is due to end in April 2020.

Eligible offenders are those who are released from prison following sentencing for offences such as possession of a knife, robbery, aggravated burglary and grievous bodily harm. The offender must be over 18 and released from a London prison to suitable accommodation in a pilot area. The tagging is used as part of strict licence conditions.

 

Hasn’t the tag been around for ages?

The tag that is commonly referred to is a tag to monitor a curfew. A curfew is monitored through radio frequency technology and does not track location. Such a tag is frequently used as part of bail conditions and on release from prison sentences.

 

What is the difference?

A global positioning system (GPS) tag is a location monitoring enabled tag. A person’s location is captured 24 hours a day. It can also be used to monitor a specific area such as an exclusion zone where active monitoring only takes place if there is a breach of that condition.

 

How does it work?

A tag worn around the ankle is worn 24 hours a day, and a satellite signal can accurately pinpoint the wearer’s location. They are designed to be difficult to remove, and if it is removed, an alert is generated to a monitoring centre. The location monitoring is carried out in live time, and the alerts in the event of a breach are immediate so that appropriate action can be carried out. This means that high-risk offenders can be prioritised for an emergency response.

 

How is the information used?

An offender’s movements will be checked against the location of reported crimes or areas he is not permitted to be in as part of the licence conditions. It was also be used statistically to improve crime detention, monitor attendance at locations such as drug testing and rehabilitation activities and to enforce restrictions such as exclusion zones.

As well as being able to check that a person is where they should, or shouldn’t, be, monitoring can be used to assess behaviours and routines. An offender’s probation officer can use the information to see how that person is spending their time and how this impacts on their behaviour or possibility of further offending. The Probation Service can be provided with daily “heat maps” of addresses visited by the offender and can be used to challenge their lifestyle choices.

 

Previous issues with tags

Earlier this year Serco was fined nearly £23 million by the Serious Fraud Office under a deferred prosecution agreement for offences of fraud and false accounting. The company had understated the level of profitability of its electronic monitoring contract in reports to the Ministry of Justice. The investigation began in 2013 when Serco paid £70 million in compensation to the government and lost their contract. Serco and G4S faced allegations of charging the government for electronically monitoring people who were dead, in jail or out of the country.

 

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We can advise on all aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. 

If you need specialist advice, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] and let us help.