Acquittal of four men at Kingston Crown Court for money laundering and evasion of duty offences

Thursday 28 June 2018

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At Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday 20 June 2018, the prosecution of four men for money laundering and evasion of duty offences collapsed due to the prosecution’s failure to comply with its disclosure obligations. All four defendants were acquitted.

Jacob Bindman was junior counsel for the first defendant (led by Anthony Barraclough of Chavasse Chambers), instructed by Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce and PartnersStephen Kamlish QC led Emma Fenn for the second defendant, instructed by Leigh Wright of Tuckers Solicitors. Brenda Campbell QC led Alia Akram for the fourth defendant, instructed by Jonathan Mcilveen of Cobleys Solicitors.

The HMRC case involved allegations relating to the smuggling of millions of cigarettes and evasion of duty on substantial amounts of alcohol.

As a result of a number of disclosure requests by the defence prior to and during the trial, it became clear that, notwithstanding that the investigation and arrests dated back to 2011-2012, there were major failings in the disclosure process by HMRC. Suspicions were aroused that the failings were of an endemic and serious nature.

During a trial in March of this year the Crown successfully applied to discharge the jury in order to deal with disclosure issues raised by the defence in respect of potentially unlawful cross border surveillance.

After the matter was set down for legal argument commencing on 18 June 2018, further disclosure was sought. The Crown declared on the first day of the hearing that they still had not met their disclosure obligations and sought a further adjournment. The application was resisted by the defence. In refusing the application to adjourn the Judge made a number of critical findings in respect of HMRC’s approach to disclosure and gave a preliminary endorsement of a number of defendants’ abuse of process submissions. The Crown decided against pursuing an appeal against a terminatory ruling, and instead offered no evidence against all four defendants. Not guilty verdicts were recorded.

Stephen Kamlish QC, Brenda Campbell QC, Jacob Bindman, Emma Fenn and Alia Akram are all members of the Garden Court Chambers Criminal Defence Team.

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