Following a lengthy 15-month investigation, BSQ have been informed that the police will not be pursuing charges against one of our private clients in an indecent images enquiry
BSQ is presently acting in two search warrant challenges arising from complex and high profile for police investigations.
In both cases, BSQ are currently engaged in pre-action litigation correspondence with the police and state investigation teams. Both claims relate to submissions advanced on behalf of BSQ client’s that the police acted unlawfully when applying ex parte – without notifying the respondents– for warrants to search our clients premises from a Magistrate’s Court.
Our submissions in one of these cases arose after our clients sought a second opinion having been advised by their original solicitors that there were no grounds to challenge the conduct of the police who had obtained warrants to search premises in the course of a long-running investigation.
BSQ partner Roger Sahota acts in both cases. Roger has considerable expertise in challenging search warrants and is one of the leading solicitor practitioners in this area. Learn more about Roger’s practice here and recent cases here and here and here.
If you require advice and assistance to challenge a search warrant or in the course of a police investigation please contact our London offices.
BSQ partner Daniel Godden has been commissioned to contribute to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice 2019. Blackstones is regarded as one of the authoritative reference sources for criminal lawyers practising in England and Wales.
Daniel has been instructed to write and update the publications chapter on police powers.
Daniel specialises in defending serious fraud and financial crime cases. He is recognised as one of the leading criminal practitioners in London and is described by the Legal 500 as a ‘fantastic lawyer’ who is ‘first rate’ with ‘encyclopaedic knowledge.’
BSQ Partner Roger Sahota attended a press conference in the Hague, Netherlands on 29 May 2018 held by BSQ client Mikheil Saakashvili, the Former Georgian President and Governor of Odessa.
Advised by Leading Counsel, Geoffrey Robertson QC and Susie Alegre of Doughty Street Chambers and BSQ Solicitors Mr Saakashvili is considering bringing a claim before the European Court of Human Rights following the cancellation of his Ukrainian citizenship and abduction and expulsion from that country.
Mr Saakashvili is best known for leading the “Rose Revolution” in his native Georgia against that country’s corrupt post-communist regime. After losing office in 2013 criminal proceedings were brought against him in absentia in Georgia although many human rights groups consider these to be politically motivated reprisals.
In 2015 he was invited by Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine to take up Ukrainian citizenship and become the Governor of Odessa. As Ukrainian law does not permit dual citizenship, Mr Saakashvili renounced his Georgian nationality in 2015 to do so. On 26th July 2017, his Ukrainian citizenship was arbitrarily revoked by Presidential Decree, leaving him stateless.
On February 12th 2018 he was forcibly detained and expelled to Warsaw, and has been denied re-entry to the country of which he was a permanent resident and leader of a major political party. He was deported from Ukraine to Poland without a court warrant in what is believed to be a politically motivated measure after organizing protests against President Poroshenko.
During the press conference Mr Robertson QC highlighted a “number of serious breaches in international law” in Mr Saakashvili’s treatment to which Germany, Britain and France “had turned a blind eye.” Primarily, these included:
Arbitrarily revoking Mr Saakashvili’s citizenship. In doing so Ukraine has acted in breach of Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights (an individual’s right to respect for family and private life) and its international obligations to prevent statelessness.
The detention and deportation of Mr Saakashvili in circumstances where he was violently and forcibly abducted amount to a violation of the right to liberty and security of the person (contrary to ECHR Article 5(1)(f) ECHR which allows for the lawful arrest or detention of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition) and further to degrading treatment (contrary to Article 3 ECHR, prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment). In addition, the speed at which these events had taken place did not allow him to challenge the lawfulness of his detention before a court amounted to a further breach of ECHR, Article 5.
In denying his right to return to Ukraine the Government was also in breach of Article 12(4) of the ICCPR (International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) by arbitrarily depriving him of the right to enter his own country. This, in turn also constituted a violation of his right to private and family life protected under Article 8 ECHR and his right to freedom of association as protected under Article 11 of the ECHR, freedom of expression (Article 10, ECHR) in further breach of Article 14 ECHR (discrimination on the grounds of his political opinion.)
BSQ continue to monitor the progression of claims brought on Mr Saakashvili’s behalf in the courts of Ukraine. Before any human rights claim can be submitted either pursuant to the ICCPR or ECHR, both conventions require an exhaustion of domestic remedies.
In the meantime, Mr Saakashvili has called upon the international community to consider taking diplomatic action including cutting diplomatic ties with Ukraine in an effort to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to allow him to return to that country to take part in the elections scheduled for later this year.
Roger Sahota specialises in international criminal and human rights litigation and particularly in sensitive cases with a political dimension.
BSQ partner Roger Sahota has been instructed in and will be attending a press conference organised on behalf of the former Georgian Prime Minister Mikheil Saakashvili in the Hague on Tuesday focusing on human rights violations following his expulsion from the Ukraine earlier this year.
The text of the press release follows:
Professor Geoffrey Robertson, QC and Mikheil Saakashvili will hold a joint press conference
on Tuesday May 29, 2018 starting at 13:30at the Nieuwspoort Press Center in Amsterdam
(Lange Poten 10, 2511 CL Den Haag).
Geoffrey Robertson QC, renowned international human rights lawyer and former UN Appeal Judge has provided a legal opinion regarding the deprivation of citizenship as well as the forced expulsion from the Ukraine of Georgia’s third president Mikheil Saakashvili. The Ukraine is culpable, in Mr Robertson’s view, for violating his civil and political rights
Press Conference to be held on May 29:th Professor Robertson will summarise his legal opinion. Mr Saakashvili, recognised as a top performer and anti-corruption campaigner in the first soviet region, will explain the background and motivations of the Ukrainian government in politically persecuting him as well as his supporters in Ukraine.
A question and answer period will follow.
The press conference is open to all accredited members of the press as well as interested NGO representatives and attorneys.
For additional information contact:
Ivan Lozowy, Esq.
Chargé for International Affairs
Movement of New Forces of Mikheil Saakashvili
BSQ partner Roger Sahota specialises in international and domestic criminal law with a political dimension.
BSQ have been instructed in a high profile and unusual business manslaughter prosecution. The case concerns allegations that slimming pills which were said to be unsafe were sold to a vulnerable student who died after becoming addicted to them and overdosing.
The case is contested and has attracted substantial media attention.
The lead BSQ partner is Goran Stojsavljevic.
Read more about the case here.
BSQ has been instructed in a potentially ground breaking judicial review of police powers on behalf of a media company.
The case concerns police powers to effect the search of premises where a search warrant has not been obtained and the police purport to rely on their powers of arrest pursuant so s32(2)(b) or s18(5) of PACE 1984. Case law in this area is extremely limited.
Proceedings have been issued in the High Court. Counsel instructed is Rupert Bowers QC of Doughty Street Chambers and the BSQ partner presiding is Roger Sahota. BSQ have been involved in a number of judicial review challenging the exercise of police powers.
Our private crime team has extensive experience of advising claimants in cases where we have successfully quashed search warrants and challenged the legality of police arrests, including most notably, Lord Hanningfield (BSQ partner Daniel Godden acting) and R (on the application of F) v Blackfriars Crown Court  EWHC 1541 (Admin) (Roger Sahota and Rupert Bowers QC) in addition to many other cases which have successfully settled prior to a full hearing.
Roger is the author of a Solicitors Guide to Search Warrants published in the Law Society Gazette.
If you require advice in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.
BSQ Serious Crime partner Goran Stojsavljevic has recently secured the quashing of a conviction on appeal and an acquittal on re-trial in an important firearms prosecution.
Following his conviction for firearms offences Goran was approached by BL who was unhappy with the service offered by his former legal aid lawyers having been sentenced to 6 years 8 month imprisonment and wished to instruct lawyers privately to appeal it.
The Court of Appeal held that the court erred in admitting extensive evidence of BL’s bad character and ordered a re-trial. Represented by James Walker of Carmelite Chambers BL was acquitted on all counts by a jury at Leicester Crown Court.
If you require representation in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.
Following an intervention and pre-charge representations by BSQ’s private client department partner Roger Sahota a police investigation into an allegation of assault against our client, a senior city finance professional has been discontinued.
Counsel instructed was Alexander Cameron QC of 3 Raymond Buildings.
Call our Mayfair offices on 0203 858 0851 if you require advice in connection with a criminal, regulatory or fraud prosecution.
BSQ’s private client department reports another success. Our client, a legal professional was cleared of all charges in the Crown Court following a criminal prosecution brought by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (‘OISC’).
Counsel instructed was Siobhan Grey QC of Doughty Street Chambers together with BSQ partner Goran Stojsavljevic.
Call our Mayfair offices on 0203 858 0851 if you require advice in connection with a criminal, regulatory or fraud prosecution.
Illegal downloading and file sharing is now rife. So far however no one in Britain has been fined and prosecuted for it. That position is unlikely to change because of new legislation that came into force yesterday. The Digital Economy Act 2017 was rushed through Parliament without the usual debating amendments to receive royal assent before Westminster closes down for the general election.
By way of an amendment to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 the maximum penalty for infringing copyright online and making it available is increased from two years to ten years. The ingredients of the offence have also been changed. The offence now requires that a person must either intend to make a monetary gain for himself or another, or know or have reason to believe that his actions will cause loss to the owner of the right or expose the owner to a risk of loss.
Strictly speaking this wording could catch the average student user downloading a torrent of their favourite show. However, targeting individual end users is not the Government’s intention. Instead, the legislation is aimed at pirates who leak and distribute copyright-infringing material for the general public.
So at present there appears to be no plans to criminalise internet users who regularly download from file sharing sites. Rather than enforcement action they are likely to receive educational warning emails from their ISPs who have signed up to the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme.
But they should guard against complacency. The Federation Against Copyright Theft has warned that “While end-users are not our primary target, they may get swept up in one of our operations and become part of the whole criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution alongside suppliers, retailers and importers.”
BSQ can report another successful outcome for our private client department. A decision was taken by the CPS this week to discontinue proceedings against our client, a qualified and regulated legal professional following an intervention by BSQ partner Goran Stojsvlejvic.
Counsel instructed was Siobhan Grey QC of Doughty Street Chambers. Consequently, our client is free to continue in practice without a stain on their reputation.
For more information about our indecent images specialisation visit our indecent images practice page.
Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection made headlines last week when he called for law enforcement agencies to focus their resources on pursuing high risk offenders who viewed indecent images of children online. He complained that with 400 men a month arrested for this type of conduct, police forces were stretched to breaking point in dealing with these cases.
In making these remarks Mr Bailey drew a valuable distinction between those individuals whose online activities are targeted at making contact with children with a view to committing serious sexual offences and those who are not.
There can be no argument that law enforcement agencies should be vigilant and use all available means to apprehend those criminals who pose a risk of contact offending.
But, from our experience the vast majority of those individuals accused of viewing or downloading indecent images do not pose such a risk.
BSQ’s criminal defence team has extensive experience of representing individuals who are either under investigation or facing prosecution having viewed illegal material online. By and large our clients are professional individuals with no previous criminal history. Normally the police will be alerted to their online activities from reports submitted by their ISP providers, not from concerns from any chatroom activity. There is often little indication from their personal or family background that would suggest they pose any risk of contact offending. Many times their behaviour can be described as solitary and compulsive – typically an individual may have downloaded huge amounts of adult legal porn and other material as well as illegal child porn. They may not have viewed all of it. There will be no history of social media or other online interaction with children.
Sadly, this type of behaviour sadly appears to far more widespread that the headline statistic of 400 arrests a month would suggest. A recent report by the NSPCC suggests the number of individuals looking at such images could exceed half a million and constituted a "social emergency". The scale of the problem explains why some police forces, rather than arresting suspects in these cases are issuing cease and desist warning notices to first time offenders.
Against this background we believe efforts to divert those offenders who do not pose a risk of contact offending away from the criminal justice system to treatment within the community deserves urgent attention.
More immediately, amending the sentencing guidelines for the offence of possession or downloading of illegal child porn (p.75-81, which makes no specific reference to a low risk of contact offending) should also be considered. Where this can be shown from expert evidence (we routinely instruct an a psycho-sexual expert in these cases) and is coupled with evidence that an offender has made efforts to address their behaviour, it should be recognised as an additional mitigating factor.
If rehabilitation is the primary objective, criminalising those men who do view this type of material but pose no appreciable risk of contact offending is not the answer.
New rules dictating the length of time that suspects in a police investigation can remain on bail pending a decision on charge are due to take effect in April 2017. Helpfully, the Home Office has issued guidance in advance of their introduction from the College of Policing on how the new scheme will work. While the changes are to be welcomed, defence lawyers advising individuals waiting for months or in some cases years for a CPS charging decision will find little to cheer about.
The proposals address some of the criticism raised in the media (see earlier blogs) particularly after the collapse of several recent Operation Yewtree investigations (including that concerning the DJ Paul Gambaccini, who has written a book (“Love Paul Gambaccini”) about his experience).
But the new rules are flawed because they place no limit on the length of time that a suspect can remain on bail while the CPS consider whether or not to charge. This was one of the main issues highlighted by Gambaccini who remained on bail for over a year pending a decision to proceed with the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Nor will there be any opportunity for defendants to ask magistrates to review the length of time the CPS takes over a decision to charge. In our experience charging decisions can take months, if not years in some cases, a situation which is clearly unacceptable and arguably in breach of ECHR guarantees that criminal investigations should be carried out within a reasonable time.
However, there is much to be welcomed in the proposals which bite in the context of police bail investigations where enquiries are still being carried out before a file is passed to the CPS for a charging decision. The proposals include provisions that;
- Police bail during an investigation must be reviewed at regular intervals i.e. at 28 days, 3 months and 6 months by an authorising officer of the rank of inspector or above (although the clock will stop whenever a file is with the CPS for a charging review);
- Defence Lawyers will be allowed to make representations to the police re e.g. conditions imposed on bail and the length of time an investigation is taking;
- There is an onus on the police to keep suspects informed of the progress of an investigation;
- Suspects will be able to ask a Magistrate to review the grant of bail in certain circumstances after an internal police review;
- Bail can only be extended beyond a period of 6 months if a case is deemed to be “exceptionally complex” with the approval of an authorised prosecutor;
Importantly, the police will be able to opt out entirely of the regime if they deem that a suspect can be released without granting bail – there is no barrier to an investigation continuing in this situation.
Practitioners can also expect some interesting litigation concerning the interpretation of when it is “necessary and proportionate” for bail to be granted by senior police officers and the courts.
Finally, perhaps the most useful aspect of the new regime from a defence lawyers point of view will be the ability to appeal to a magistrates to review a decision to extend police investigative bail. From disclosure requests and by cross-examining the officer in the case in the course of this application clients will have a tactical opportunity to obtain far more information about the progress of an investigation than the police currently disclose or may necessarily wish to disclose.
Berkeley Square Solicitors partner has been instructed to represent Darryl Rowe. Mr Rowe has now been charged with eight counts of causing grievous bodily harm and one count of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.
The case will be heard at Lewes Crown Court.
Sussex Police have said the allegations against Mr Rowe are that he deliberately infected men he met with HIV.
Daniel Godden has previously acted in number of similar cases, none of which have resulted in convictions.
The case has generated substantial media coverage. Read more here.
Berkeley Square partner Goran Stojsavljevic has been instructed to represent one of the Accused in a multi-handed murder prosecution. Proceedings are at a early stage.
Goran's practice focuses on representing both individuals and corporate bodies investigated and prosecuted for serious and financial crime.
If you require advice in an ongoing criminal investigation please contact our London offices.
Berkeley Square Solicitors can report a third successive acquittal in recent weeks for our private client crime department.
Our client, a company director was acquitted after a 5 day trial in the Crown Court. Charges related to an allegation of assault.
Berkeley Square's private crime department specialises in defending professionals of good character in criminal proceedings. We are pleased to report a number of outstanding results in recent contested criminal trials - see our recent blog entries here and here.
Counsel instructed was Michael McGarian of Drystone Chambers. The instructing solicitor was Roger J Sahota.
In court proceedings before a central London Magistrates Court Berkeley Square Solicitors have secured another acquittal for our private client department, which specialises in defending professionals of good character.
Cost were awarded to the defence at the end of the case.
Counsel instructed was Abigail Bright of Doughty Street Chambers. Roger J Sahota, partner was the instructing solicitor.