defence lawyer

BSQ Instructed in Two New Search Warrant Challenges

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 Writes for Blackstones Criminal Practice 2019

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.’

Health and Safety Prosecution Discontinued After BSQ Intervention 

A large scale health and safety prosecution by Westminster Council has been discontinued following an intervention by BSQ solicitors.

BSQ were asked to intervene at a late stage in proceedings by our clients after assuming conduct of the case from a large City practice. After filing our legal argument with the City of London Magistrates Court challenging the legality of the Council’s conduct in commencing proceedings the case was discontinued.  

The BSQ partner instructed was Roger Sahota. 

If you require advice and assistance in relation to a health and safety or regulatory prosecution please contact our London office. 
 

Another Search Warrant Success for BSQ

BSQ have settled a claim for judicial review in relation to the conduct of a state investigative agency and their search of our client’s premises.

Rather than obtaining a search warrant, in a pre-planned operation the state agency purported to rely on Section 32 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to justify the search. Our application for judicial review challenged the legality of their conduct on the basis this was not a proper use of these statutory powers. Section 32 allows for the search of any premises where the suspect was found or was present at immediately before their arrest, not a pre-planned operation. .

BSQ have been involved in a number of landmark search warrant cases in recent years including many that have settled outside court.

In relation to the misuse of section 32 PACE powers this remains an area of some controversy in our view and we continue to look for a test case precedent to examine the law in this area. In our view many state agencies are circumventing applications for search warrants by employing section 32 PACE when its use cannot be justified.

BSQ partner Roger Sahota was instructed – Roger has been involved in a number of successful search warrant judicial reviews including R (on the application of F) v Blackfriars Crown Court [2014] EWHC 1541 (Admin).

BSQ Partner Daniel Godden also featured in the notable case of Lord Hanningfield.

Rupert Bowers QC of Doughty Street Chambers was leading counsel

BSQ Briefing – Sexting, Children and the Law

BSQ Briefing – Sexting, Children and the Law

In January 2016 the Home Office introduced a new type of disposal for cases where young people were accused of sexting i.e. distributing sexual imagery by social media or some other form of electronic communication. This article examines how the new disposal - known as outcome 21 has worked in practice - and what the law holds for young people who engage in sexting.

Leave Granted to Amicus Team Including BSQ Partner in Radovan Karadzic War Crimes Case

Leave has been granted to a team of academics and practitioners including BSQ partner Roger Sahota who have filed a legal motion challenging the application of JCE (Joint Criminal Enterprise) theory at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the other ad hoc tribunals.

The Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Court allow amicus curiae observations where they are deemed desirable for the proper determination of the case. Both the Karadzic defence team and the Office of the Prosecutor have been ordered to file submissions in response within 30 days.

The filing raises questions arising from the judgement of the UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (“UKSC”) in R v Jogee;1 Ruddock v The Queen2 (“Jogee”) concerning the mens rea (subjective element) of the third category of common purpose liability (“JCE-III”) as it exists at customary international law (“CIL”).

The filing is available here.

Directors Criminal Prosecution Diverted After BSQ Intervention

BSQ Fraud specialists Daniel Godden and Roger Sahota recently advised a company director accused of misappropriating company assets.  

Our client was alerted by a red flag alert from the company’s auditor concerning accounting irregularities.

Fearing that an internal investigation would lead to a criminal and civil complaint from his employers we were instructed to approach his employers.

Following extensive negotiations, the parties agreed to a civil settlement and non-disclosure agreement.

If you require advice and assistance in a financial crime investigation please contact our London offices. 

BSQ Success in Indecent Images Crown Court Acquittal

Another success for BSQ’s private crime department in an indecent images prosecution. This case also highlights the need for defendants in these cases to seek advice from specialist lawyers who are experienced in this field.  

Our client, a business owner of good character had been charged with various counts of making i.e. downloading indecent images contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978.  The client sought alternative legal advice as he was unhappy with the quality of service provided by his previous lawyers and instructed BSQ. The case was listed for a Crown Court trial at this stage.  

Having reviewed the evidence and consulted our defence forensic resident experts, BSQ partner Roger Sahota drafted representations to the Crown submitting that the evidence disclosed did not present a case to answer based on the clients stated explanation that he was engaged in the mass and indiscriminate downloading of large amounts of material from the internet.

The CPS accepted these representations and withdrew all charges, offering no evidence at the Crown Court in relation to all counts on the indictment.

Our private crime team has a niche in representing professionals accused of indecent images offences. If you require advice in connection with a criminal prosecution please contact our London offices.

BSQ instructed in Potential Landmark Police Powers Challenge

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 [2014] 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.

 

 

 

 

Amicus Team including BSQ partner files Appeal in Radovan Karadavic Case

BSQ partner Roger Sahota is part of a team of academics and practitioners who have filed a challenge to the law governing the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and other ad hocs tribunal.

The filing raises questions arising from the judgement of the UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (“UKSC”) in R v Jogee;1 Ruddock v The Queen2 (“Jogee”) concerning the mens rea (subjective element) of the third category of common purpose liability (“JCE-III”) as it exists at customary international law (“CIL”).

The filing is available here.

Indecent Images Prosecution Discontinued

In another notable result for our private crime department we have been notified that the police have discontinued an indecent images investigation.  Our client, a prominent business figure remains a man of good character. Pre-charge BSQ made a range of enquiries with defence defence forensic experts and leading counsel instructed to advise our client.

If you need advice in an indecent images prosecution please contact our London office.

Court of Appeal Reviews Sentencing Guidelines in Downloading Indecent Images Cases

BSQ partner Roger Sahota comments on a recent important Court of Appeal decision - R v Pinkerton [2017] EWCA Crim 38 - in which the Court reviewed the operation of sentencing guidelines in downloading indecent images cases. In P the Judge had sentenced an offender taking a starting point beyond the Sentencing Guidelines Council (“SGC”) guidelines because of the particularly depraved nature of images found and the harm this type of behaviour caused.  

Background

Amended sentencing guidelines for indecent image offences were introduced on 1 April 2014. They replaced the old guidelines which had been in force since 14 May 2007. The new simplified regime saw a reduction from the five levels of categories introduced in the 2007 guidelines to 3 levels of categories as follows;

Category A (Images involving penetrative sexual activity and images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism) incorporates the former Levels 4 & 5.

Category B (Images involving non-penetrative sexual activity) incorporates the former Levels 2 & 3. There is accordingly no longer a distinction between non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children and between children.

Category C images are Indecent Images not falling within A or B.

Decision

The main points arising from the decision are summarised below. It is important to note that the decision is unlikely to change the general sentencing practice in the Crown Court where first time offenders not engaged in distribution remain likely to receive non-custodial sentences. The Court did however criticise the approach that the Judge took both in the procedure adopted during sentencing and the way the sentence was calculated. Notably;

1.     While the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence imposed, it felt it inappropriate for the judge to have strayed beyond the upper range of the sentencing guidelines. The SGC guidelines were created after extensive research and consultation. It was not for police officers and judges to create their own separate categories above and beyond those created by the SGC as the dangers of inconsistency and subjectivity were all too obvious.

2.     The SGC guidelines for downloading cases took into account concerns this behaviour caused harm and in particular indirect harm – downloading played a part in perpetuating a market for this type of material – and Judges should not give undue weight to this factor.

3.     Given the existence of the database, it was unnecessary for judges to view the materials produced in these cases save in exceptional circumstances

Conclusion

BSQ welcomes an end to the worrying trend for prosecutors and police officers to provide their own gloss and commentary on the guidelines and their application when providing detailed descriptions of images found during sentencing. By providing greater clarity in the application of the guidelines this decision will hopefully result in more consistency in the sentences handed down for the most serious cases and enable lawyers to better advise their clients of the possible outcomes.

 

City Professional Cleared of Assault

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.  

Immigration Adviser Cleared in Regulatory 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.  

 

Tougher Penalties For Internet Piracy – Digital Economy Act 2017

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.”

 

Private Client Success - CPS Discontinue Case Against Professional Client

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.  

Online Justice Proposals for Fare Evasion Prosecutions Dropped

With the General Election looming, a lack of parliamentary time has forced the Government to drop proposals for those charged with fare evasion to be tried online. These proposals were criticised in an earlier BSQ blog - see here.  

However, it seems inevitable that proposals in a similar form will be resurrected after a new Government is in place. 

 

India Extradition – Closing Submissions 

After a week long hearing before the Westminster Magistrates Court, closing submissions have concluded in BSQ’s contested fraud extradition case concerning a request made by the Government of India. The Court heard evidence from our Indian legal expert and Indian officials concerning Indian legal procedure and prison conditions in response to our submissions these were not in conformity with international human rights standards. 

Judgement is expected in May.

Extradition requests from India are rare and the decision in this case will be of interest to extradition and international criminal lawyers. Roger Sahota is the instructing solicitor. 

Roger Sahota appears at ICTY War Crimes Appeal

BSQ partner Roger Sahota is due to appear at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) next week to deliver closing submissions in the appeal against sentence and conviction of Berislav Pusic.  Roger is the only Solicitor to have appeared in a contested trial at the ICTY. Roger also features on the list of counsel eligible to practice at the ICC. 

Mr Pusic is one of six Accused standing trial in the case of Prlic et al, one of the longest running cases at the ICT. The original trial began in 2006 and finished in 2011.

Roger has been instructed throughout as counsel for Mr Pusic.

 

BSQ Briefing - Indecent Images - Time to reform the Law?

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.