News

Ben Is Ranked Chambers UK 2019 As A New Silk for Consumer Law

Ben has been ranked in Chambers UK 2019 as a New Silk for Consumer Law. He was described as ""An excellent communicator who is always immaculately prepared and shows outstanding attention to detail. An engaging advocate, he is very personable and puts clients from all backgrounds at ease."

 

Meanwhile, for Financial Crime it was noted that Ben is ""Fantastic and incredibly hard-working." "He's very on top of his cases and a very good lawyer." 

Red Line For Victims Of Trafficking Who Commit Serious Offences

Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared for the Crown in GS [2018] EWCA Crim in which the Court analysed what constitutes a change in law case for the purposes of granting leave to appeal against conviction out of time in human trafficking cases. 

 

The risk to the Applicant’s immigration status was deemed to be a substantial injustice. The case set out a hard edge approach in the receipt of medical evidence on appeal in the context of trafficking cases on the grounds that the evidence could have been adduced in the Crown Court, exceeded the proper scope of the experts’ expertise and a retrospective analysis of an appellant’s psychological status will not necessarily be accurate. 

 

The case addressed the significance of duress being rejected by a jury where trafficking status is on appeal relied on to show an abuse of process.

 

Ben Douglas-Jones QC and Aparna Rao secured convictions of Philip Bujak, the former CEO of the Montessori charity for species of fraud including the receipt of a kickback in relation to the sale of a property in Princes Gate near Hyde Park, the inflation of invoices from the charity’s printing company, the forgery of art restoration invoices to show that art belonged to Montessori when it in fact came from his private art collection and business expense claims which in fact related to successive family reunions. 

 

Bujak received a 6-year prison sentence and was disqualified for acting as a company director for 10 years.

 

Burden Of Proof Resolved

Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared for the Crown in MK v R; Gega v R [2018] EWCA Crim 667, a crucially important case which has resolved the burden of proof where a defence is raised under s45 Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Definitive Approach To Sentencing Defendants With Mental Illness

Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared for the Crown in R v Edwards [2018] EWCA Crim 595 in which the Vice President of the Court of Appeal handed down definitive guidance on the approach to sentencing defendants with mental illnesses.

Ben Douglas-Jones QC Appointed Recorder Of The Crown Court

Ben Douglas-Jones QC has been appointed Recorder of the Crown Court.

Book Launch Success!

Ben Douglas-Jones QC attended the launch of his latest book Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice in London last week. 

 

Joined by fellow authors, Philippa Southwell, Michelle Brewer, the event was declared a success.

 

Human trafficking and modern slavery is, of course, a key legal issue in today's society. The book (published by Bloomsbury Law, Tax and Accounting) is a concise, practical, guide to modern slavery and human trafficking law and procedure, in a step by step format, covering all aspects of representing victims of human trafficking and the law surrounding this.

 

Its cross-discipline approach offers practical guidance for criminal and immigration practitioners unfamiliar with each side of these practice areas.

 

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice covers the following areas:

 

  • Introduction – legal background, framework, domestic and international;
  • Definition of a trafficking victim;
  • Determination of status as a victim of trafficking;
  • Criminal – non punishment etc;
  • Criminal – victim protection etc;
  • Immigration/International protection;
  • Trafficking and the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Relevance of NRM decisions and interplay with the international protection/immigration claim/deportation etc.

 

The book covers the following legislation and case law:

 

  • The Modern Slavery Act 2015
  • Palermo Protocol 2000
  • Refugee Convention on Human Rights 1951

A large number of cases involving victims of trafficking have gone through the appeal courts in recent years. Despite the Court of Appeal in those cases heavily criticising police, prosecutors and defence lawyers who failed to identify and act upon claims of trafficking, victims are still slipping through the net and being convicted when they should not be. All practitioners who work in the field of modern slavery and human trafficking will know there is a hybrid of legal issues for any one case and practitioners will need to be alive to all legal issues.

 

This book aims to be a concise, manageable text for criminal and immigration practitioners alike and acts as a quick reference source for use by practitioners at court and at all stages through the justice and immigration system, as well as having appeal to the judiciary, students, academics and law enforcement agencies.

 

Click Here To Buy Your Copy Of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice 

Important Divisional Court Case

Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared for the DPP in an important Divisional Court case before the President of the QBD and Kerr J in which the best evidence rule, memory refreshing, status of Forms MGDDA in Drink and Drug Driving cases and the status of documents following the advent of digital working.

Bloomsbury Hails Book Success!

The launch of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice by Philippa Southwell, Michelle Brewer and Ben Douglas-Jones QC has been hailed a great success by publisher Bloomsbury Professional.

 

The book is now available online. Click here to buy your copy http://bit.ly/2sK8GlW

Ben Douglas-Jones To Be Appointed To QC

Ben Douglas-Jones is to be appointed to QC in February 2018.

 

 

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice

Ben together with Michelle Brewer (barrister, Garden Court) and Philippa Southwell (solicitor, Birds) is the editor of the Bloomsbury professional handbook to be published in February 2018.

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Trafficking cases – defence disclosure and anonymization

Ben appeared in R v L and R v N before the Court of Appeal in which the Vice President of the CACD endorsed his suggestions concerning what material should be given by appellants in human rights based appeals.  The CACD also set out how to approach anonymising appellants in cases involving victims of human trafficking.

Copycat Website Alleged Fraudster Acquitted

Operation Cleo 2.

Stephen Oliver was represented by Ben, led by Graham Trembath QC.  He faced allegations of creating and operating copycat government websites to defraud the public.  The case was complex and substantial.  After a trial the defendants were acquitted of copycat website fraud and the prosecution abandoned further proceedings concerning consumer protection offences.  A second case has been discontinued.

Conviction upheld in MTIC fraud

Ben, leading James Marsland, appeared for the Specialist Fraud Division before the Court of Appeal R v Mumtaz [2017] EWCA Crim 1843 (serious and complex fraud).  In a judgment given by Hickinbottom LJ the Court agreed with Ben that there was no prejudice in an amendment to the indictment which had secured the conviction of the Appellant.

Training in the Sultanate of Oman

In October 2017, Ben conducted human trafficking training for Beyond Borders together with Peter Carter QC in Oman.  They trained judges, prosecutors and civil servants concerning identification and treatment of trafficking victims.

Success In Mortgage Fraud Trial

Operation Valgus [2008-2017] Ben, led by Patrick Harrington QC of Farrar’s Building and prosecuting for Elspeth Pringle MBE of the Central Fraud Group in London, recently secured convictions of five defendants in the first of three trials in Operation Valgus.

 

Operation Valgus, a 14-handed mortgage fraud, is reportedly the biggest mortgage fraud ever tried in England and Wales, involving over 1,000 mortgages.

 

It is the biggest fraud ever to have been investigated by North Wales Police.

 

Press Coverage: BBC News / Financial Times / ITV / Daily Mail / Daily Post

 

Pre-Trial Press:

Wales Online

Double Jeopardy – The Significance Of Void Decisions

The Court of Appeal agreed with Ben that there was no double jeopardy in a conviction and sentence for escape in the Crown Court in respect of a prisoner who had been charged with and sentenced for a prison disciplinary offence of escape; R v Robinson [2017] EWCA Crim 936 (double jeopardy).  The prison sentence was to be treated as void.

Private Hire Licence – Landmark Decision Concerning Suspension

Ben appeared for P in Reigate and Banstead BC v Pawlowski [2017] EWHC 1764 (Admin).  It has become a leading case on a council’s power to suspend a private hire licence.  

 

Singh v Cardiff Justices established that it was unlawful for a local authority to use suspension as a holding operation pending further investigation. Accordingly, a local authority could not lawfully suspend by reason of a criminal charge on a "wait and see" basis.

 

If it suspended the licence, it had to do so by way of a substantive decision on the fitness of the driver to hold the licence. Once it was seen that suspension was not a holding operation but a substantive decision, it became apparent that suspension would rarely be the appropriate course where a driver was charged with a matter for which, if convicted, he would be subject to revocation of his licence.

 

If such a charge merited action, and if the action was not by way of an interim measure pending determination of the facts at criminal trial, revocation would generally be the appropriate course. To suspend a licence because an allegation was made and then revoke it because the allegation was proved was contrary to the decision in Singh.

 

That was not to say that, once a decision had been taken to suspend upon notification of a charge, no subsequent decision to revoke could ever be taken. It was possible to envisage a case where facts thereafter emerging from the criminal trial put a different complexion on the matter. The initial suspension would not necessarily rule out a subsequent revocation in such circumstances, having regard in particular to the fact that the local authority's powers were conferred for purposes of public protection.

 

Any decision to revoke would be subject to a statutory right of appeal. Further, if it should later transpire, for example by reason of acquittal at trial, that the former licence-holder was indeed a fit and proper person to hold a licence, provision could be made for expeditious re-licensing.

Leave To Appeal Out Of Time

Ben appeared for the Crown in R v PK [2017] EWCA Crim 486; [2017] Crim. L.R. 716. The President of the QBD held that the test for granting leave to appeal out of time where a case followed a guilty plea and was not a change in law case was the Mateta / Boal test.

The Right To Free Speech

Ben Douglas-Jones, led by John McGuinness QC, represented the DPP in an important case concerning the right to free speech. In DPP v Kingsley Smith, an appeal by way of case stated, the Administrative Court (Divisional List) found that four posts on Google+ were not merely an expression of the right to free speech: they were “menacing” or “grossly offensive”. 

 

Smith was an Islamic revert who had made comments supportive of ISIS.  He posted messages on You Tube clips:

  1. describing the conflict of radical Islam and the extreme right in Britain,
  2. of the plea of the David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, from the pulpit of Oxford Cathedral for religious tolerance and
  3. articles about ISIS and British Military power:

“If I saw Paul Golding [leader of the far right wing organisation “Britain First”] I would slice his throat.”

“David Cameron I'm gonna put an lED on your doorstep.”

“One day I will kill these kufr !!!! Allahu akbar".

“Allah Akbar kill the kufr!!!” (translated as “God is great, kill the disbeliever!”).

 

The Court found that the case was very different from Chambers, a case in which a joke in bad taste about blowing up an airport had been made.  The messages were clearly not a joke:

 

The District Judge had first to consider whether the sole element of the actus reus that was in dispute on each charge, namely whether the relevant message was of the proscribed character, was proved. To answer that he had to ask himself whether, as a question of fact, taking account of the context and all relevant circumstances, and applying the standards of a reasonable person in an open and just multi-racial (and, I would add, multi-faith) society, it was proved that a particular message was grossly offensive to those to whom it related or was of a menacing character – i.e. would have created a sense of apprehension or fear in a person of reasonable fortitude who received or read it.

 

The District Judge did not do that in circumstances where there was a clear case that the messages were grossly offensive.

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Human Trafficking - Landmark

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared for the Crown in a landmark special court (Lord Thomas CJ, Hallett VP and Goss J) hearing of 6 conjoined appeals, led by John McGuinness QC, in the case of Joseph et al. [2017] EWCA Crim 36.  It concerned victims of human trafficking charged with offences.

 

It addressed:

  1. Whether duress needed to be reassessed in the context of victims of trafficking;
  2. How to approach the prosecution of victims of trafficking who commit serious offences (such as drug trafficking) less than murder;
  3. Whether the courts should redefine the approach to the prosecution of victims of human trafficking following the coming into force of the statutory defence to offences of being a victim of trafficking (s45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015);
  4. The prosecution of child victims of trafficking (where the CCRC erroneously suggested that the Court of Appeal had misunderstood the law on the basis that the Court in R v Le and R v N [2012] EWCA Crim 189, [2013] QB 379 (in which Ben Douglas-Jones appeared) had looked at compulsion in relation to child victims in the wrong way);
  5. The relationship between the Competent Authority and the CPS.
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Human Trafficking Roundtable discussion

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared on a panel of experts in human trafficking including Mr Justice McCloskey, President of the Upper Tribunal, Upper Tribunal Judge Finch, Pam Bowen CBE, the CPS Lead in Human Trafficking, Michelle Brewer, a barrister with expertise in human trafficking and Bernie Gravett, a trafficking expert, in a roundtable discussion with 8 Romanian judges of live issues in human trafficking.

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Human trafficking

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in six cases in a two-day special court hearing before The Lord Chief Justice, Vice President of the Court of Appeal and Goss J in an appeal which will determine the scope of the definition of human trafficking, examine the role of the competent authority in the national referral mechanism and consider whether drugs mules carrying significant quantities of Class A drugs across international borders should be prosecuted in the public interest when they are victims of trafficking.

 

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Cyber crime

Ben Douglas-Jones represented a defendant (F) for cyber crime including the procurement of DDOS attacks over a two-year period in which Pay Day loan providers and the Consumer Rights Group forum were targeted.  He received a non-custodial sentence.

 

Press Coverage

Wales Online

BBC

The Times 22 November 2016

The Guardian 22 November 2016

 

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Life Sentences

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in the appeal of a life sentence (R v Hoppe) where Gross LJ giving judgment said that when looking at whether a hospital order should have been imposed when an appellant was originally sentenced, while the Court had to look at whether the Court erred in passing the life sentence (Vowles) it would be artificial not to take into account the punishment that an appellant had undergone in the intervening years.

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Channel Tunnel Security Breach Convictions Upheld By Court of Appeal

R v Miharessari [2016] EWCA Crim 1733 (asylum seekers breaching Channel Tunnel security).  Ben represented the Crown and submitted that (1) there had been no abuse of process in charging the appellants with a 19 Century offence which had the effect of depriving them of the refugee defence under s.31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; and (2) the offence of obstructing an engine was made out when the Channel Tunnel rails were powered down as a result of asylum seekers penetrating tunnel security.

Do You Know Your Modern Slavery Act?

 

Ben Douglas-Jones recently spoke on the topic of Modern Slavery Act 2015 Compliance in the Construction Industry under the banner “Do you know your Modern Slavery Act?” at UK Construction Week 2016.

 

Ben joined a panel comprising Aiden McQuade, Director, Anti-Slavery International, Chris Blythe, Chief Executive, The Chartered Institute of Building and Caroline Johnstone, Group Sustainability Manager, Galliford Try.  

 

The panel session was chaired by Dr Shamir Ghumra, Associate Director, BRE.

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Asylum Defence

Ben Douglas-Jones recently appeared in two Court of Appeal cases (Z, 7 July 2016 and Chikho, 13 October 2016) which considered the status of Turkey as a stopover point for refugees seeking to rely on the asylum seeker’s defence to criminal offences.  

 

The 1951 Refugee Convention, as a post-Second World War instrument, was originally limited in scope to persons fleeing events occurring before 1951 within Europe.  A 1967 Protocol removed the geographic and temporal limits of the Convention.

 

Turkey however maintained the geographical limitation. Thus no Convention protection was historically afforded to refugees from outside Europe seeking asylum in Turkey.  A stopover in Turkey could (historically) not prevent a refugee from relying on the refugee defence.  In Chikho the importance of advice given at the Crown Court was highlighted.

 

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Important Appeal

R. v D [2016] EWCA Crim 454; [2016] 4 W.L.R. 122; [2016] 2 Cr. App. R. 18; [2016] Crim. L.R. 569

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in an important appeal concerning defective indictments and the substitution of offences on appeal.

 

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A Serious Player In Fraud

Ben Douglas-Jones has been ranked in fraud and consumer law in the Legal 500 2016.

 

The Directory described him as “A serious player in fraud” and noted his cross-examination skills in the context of consumer law.

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Appeals Success

Galvin v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2016] UKFTT 577 (TC); [2016] S.T.I. 2560

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared for the applicant in an application to reinstate an appeal against the imposition of civil evasion penalties following the strike out of an appeal in the FTT Tax Chamber.  

 

The case concerned the application of Art 6 of the ECHR in tax cases where evasion penalties were imposed.

 

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Convictions Secured

Ben Douglas-Jones, leading Jamie Marsland, secured convictions against James Ponchaud and another following a six week trial of a double MTIC VAT fraud.

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Bad Character And Doli Incapax

R v M [2016] 4 W.L.R. 146  [2016] 2 Cr. App. R. 20 (doli incapax)

Ben appeared in an important case concerning bad character in cases where doli incapax applied.  It was held that the presumption of incapacity of committing a crime could only be rebutted by the prosecution by clear positive evidence, not consisting merely of evidence of the acts amounting to the offence itself, but that the appellant knew that his act was seriously wrong as distinct from mere naughtiness or childish mischief.

Presumption Of Incapacity

R. v M [2016] 2 Cr. App. R. 20

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in an appeal concerning the presumption of incapacity of committing a crime in historical offences where doli incapax applied.  

 

The presumption could only be rebutted by the prosecution by clear positive evidence, not consisting merely of evidence of the acts amounting to the offence itself, but that the appellant knew that his act was seriously wrong as distinct from mere naughtiness or childish mischief.  

 

Where such incidents formed bad character evidence then the presumption was irrelevant.

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Asylum Defence

R. v Zaredar (Arash)

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in an appeal which led to Gross LJ stating that the substance of the judgment should be incorporated into training for solicitors.

 

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Case Stated

R. (on the application of S) v Croydon Magistrates' Court

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared for the DPP in an appeal concerning a district judge's refusal to adjourn a trial days before it was listed.  The decision was Wednesbury unreasonable where the decision was made in the absence of relevant evidence.

 

A renewed application for an adjournment on the morning of the trial with the benefit of the missing evidence should have been dealt with as though the magistrates were in the judge's position days earlier, and without taking the presence of witnesses into account. 

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Case Stated

R. (on the application of Ram) v DPP [2016] EWHC 1426 (Admin)

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared in a significant case in which guidance was given on the approach to be adopted in cases of judicial review of the Victims' Right to Review Scheme.

 

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Immigration Judgement Given

Leveson P, Globe and Cheema-Grubb JJ recently handed down an important judgment in Boateng [2016] EWCA Crim 57 in which the Court:

 

(1)    held that where the illegal entry into the UK is facilitated, the person whose entry is facilitated does not have to have any mens rea for the breach of immigration law involved; Kaile [2009] EWCA Crim 2868 distinguished;

 

(2)    held that it is perfectly proper to indict facilitation by reference to a breach of s.3 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

 

(3)    analysed where the line should be drawn between technical / drafting errors in an indictment and errors which cause it to become fundamentally flawed; and

 

(4)    analysed the difference by nullity of guilty pleas, adding context to Nightingale, and pleas entered following erroneous legal advice where “a clear injustice has been done”.

 

Ben Douglas-Jones appeared for the Crown.

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Immigration Offences

R v Boateng [2016] EWCA Crim 57; [2016] 4 W.L.R. 70; [2016] 2 Cr. App. R. 5; [2016] Crim. L.R. 495.  Ben appeared for the Crown in this case where a number of important aspects of charging immigration fraud offences was considered.  In particular, the Court considered the case of Kaile, where it had been said, on one view, that a defendant could not be guilty of smuggling a child into the UK because a child could not form the guilty mind for the underlying offence.  The Court found that the underlying mischief could be s.3 of the Immigration Act 1971, which required no mens rea.  

The role of the CCRC

R v YY [2016] EWCA Crim 18; [2016] 1 Cr. App. R. 28 (role of the CCRC in appeals concerning refugees).  Ben appeared in this case, where the President of the QBD said that the CCRC should not normally refer refugee defence cases to the CACD where there had not been a previous unsuccessful appeal.  The president suggested that a “triage system” should be introduced.

Free speech And Note Taking In Court

R (Ewing) v Cardiff Crown Court [2016] EWHC 183 (Admin); [2016] 4 W.L.R. 21; [2016] 1 Cr. App. R. 32; (2016) 180 J.P. 153; [2016] E.M.L.R. 18; [2016] Inquest L.R. 32; [2016] A.C.D. 44 Ben appeared in this case which considered the rights of people to take notes in the Crown Court, contempt of court and vexatious litigants acting as an amanuensis. 

Tackling Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Ben Douglas-Jones spoke at the "Tackling Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking" conference on 28th January 2016.

 

Ben, who wrote the CPS guidance on charging and prosecuting victims of human trafficking spoke about how best to assess cases of forced criminality and how to put the Legislation into practice.

 

His talk also looked at how to examine the implications of the Modern Slavery Act and explored the Human Rights Act and how it protects its victims.

 

Ben's talk also focused on how best to understand victims' rights regarding asylum claims.

 

Ben was joined at the event by Kevin Hyland OBE, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and Justine Currell, Head of Modern Slavery Policy, Home Office. The conference was chaired by Anne Read, director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army.

Blackstone's Guide To The Consumer Rights Act 2015 

Ben Douglas-Jones, together with Denis Barry, Edward Jenkins QC, Daniel Lloyd and Charlene Sumnall has written a guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

 

The Guide, published by Blackstone's, is now available from all good bookstores and via online booksellers such as Amazon.

Forfeiture Success

Ben Douglas-Jones, acting for the legatees of the Will of the alleged gangster Roy Francis Adkins in forfeiture proceedings, secured the release of £900,000.  

 

The Metropolitan Police had detained it as alleged criminal property.  They said the money came from drug and gun running.  

 

They relied on the reputation of Roy Francis Adkins as a gangster who was supposed to have killed the “great” train robber Charlie White. The Police argued that Mr Adkins was the right hand man of the Amsterdam drugs lord Klaas Bruinsma.

 

They also relied on the allegation that it was Bruinsma who had shot Adkins outside the Nightwatchman Bar in Amsterdam in 1990.  Ben was instructed by Seamus Austin of Tuckers via a damages based agreement.

Tycoon Jailed After £38m Barclays Fraud

 

Ben Douglas-Jones has successfully prosecuted Nicholas Marcou for a fraud against Barclays Bank worth over £38m.

 

Marcou, described by Judge Michael Grieve QC as being charismatic but also dishonest, conned Barclays into giving him considerable sums of cash based on thousands of deals with supermarkets. 

 

Those deals did not exist.

 

The case concerns a fresh-air invoicing fraud. "Nicholas Marcou was at the relevant time the managing director of Abacus Trading Company Limited," explains Ben. "‘Abacus would obtain trade finance in the course of its business from Barclays.

 

This finance would take the form of advances made by the bank against invoices issued by Abacus to its trade customers.

 

"The fraud worked by providing a very large number of false invoice details, in effect a representation in each case that a genuine trade had taken place when it had not. Money was advanced by the bank as a result of and in reliance upon those false representations. In this way money was obtained by Barclays by fraud."

 

Ben adds that "Nicholas repeatedly negotiated with the bank to raise the amount of cash they would hand over on the basis of the bogus invoices. He was able, as the front man, to use clearly considerable charisma and charm to influence Barclays into increasing levels of lending to a very significant degree indeed."

 

Press Coverage: Daily Mail

Pharmacist Jailed For Viagra Sweets Scam

Ben Douglas-Jones was involved in the successful conviction of a pharmacist who sold fake Viagra pills and abortion tablets on the black market by disguising them as sweets. 

 

Sundeep Amin was jailed for 16 months following his arrest.

 

The arrest came after a raid on his 'meticulous' illegal dispensary in Ilford, Essex, believed to be one of the largest ever discovered.

 

The raid uncovered more than 261,000 tablets worth around £800,000.

 

795 abortion kits, 638 pills to induce abortion, hair loss treatments, and cures for erectile dysfunction were found.

 

For more information about this case click here: Court Online

Ben Douglas-Jones Thanked By Lord Chief Justice

Legal representatives whose erroneous advice causes them to plead guilty and later gives rise to successful appeals against conviction should be referred to their professional bodies.  

 

In an important judgment, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd the Lord Chief Justice upbraided a duty solicitor and a solicitor advocate for failing to explain the parameters of the asylum defence to an asylum seeker facing a qualifying offence.  

 

In R v Shabani (Court of Appeal, July, 23 2015) the Lord Chief Justice, Nichol and Stuart Smith JJ referred the duty solicitor and the solicitor advocate who represented an asylum seeker facing a document offence to the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority.  

 

The duty solicitor had given no advice about the asylum defence.  The advocate had outlined the offence but had failed to set out the parameters of the offence.  While the advice given by the advocate was better than the advice given by representatives in other reported cases, such as Mateta, the Lord Chief Justice indicated that a robust approach was necessary as neither the Criminal Justice System “we as a nation” thought to have lawyers can have people like this advising.  

 

The Lord Chief Justice expressed the Court’s particular thanks to Ben Douglas-Jones who appeared in the Court of Appeal (but not in the Crown Court) on behalf of the CPS Appeals Unit and invited the Court to allow the appeal.

SFO faces £7m bill for “cataclysmic” changes causing Celtic Energy prosecution to collapse

The High Court has ordered the SFO to pay the Defendants’ costs of the failed Celtic Energy prosecution.  The costs exceed £7 million.  They will be assessed by the High Court.

 

The Defendants, a retired consultant solicitor, Eric Evans, his professional partner, Alan Whiteley, and assistant solicitor, Frances Bodman, had set up a complex commercial transaction involving opencast mining sites and restoration obligations.

 

A fifth defendant, Stephen Davies QC, had advised on the legality of the scheme. Central to the scheme was Celtic Energy Ltd, South Wales' most successful mining company, whose 100% shareholder, Richard Walters, and their finance director, Leighton Humphreys, were also charged. 

 

Mr Evans and Mr Humphreys had always vehemently denied having done anything wrong and were indeed keen to show that their conduct was commercially adept.

 

The case was dismissed by a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, in December 2013.  

 

The SFO’s attempt to resurrect the prosecution through an application for a voluntary bill of indictment failed in September 2014 when a Court of Appeal Judge, Lord Justice Fulford, dismissed their application.

 

The High Court (Mr Justice Hickinbottom) has today ordered the SFO to pay the Defendants’ costs which total £6 million.  The costs will be assessed.

 

The Court described the SFO’s legal analysis of the case, as being subject to “regular, cataclysmic change”. 

 

The commercial scheme was devised by highly respected commercial solicitor, Eric Evans.  The Court found that the SFO had first pegged its case upon a legal opinion of Stephen Davies QC, a leading insolvency barrister.  He was alleged to have been paid £250,000 to change his mind about the state of the law; so that his views coincided with Evans’.  

 

The SFO later conceded that Messrs Evans and Davies were correct in their analysis of the law and that the SFO had been wrong. The SFO proceeded repeatedly to change their case to circumvent complex arguments of the Defence.

 

The Court found that the changes were “fundamental”.  Each version of the SFO’s case was “destined to fail in any event”.  “The case presented … changed with the wind, most iterations in turn collapsing under the slightest breeze, to the real prejudice of the [Defendants]”.  “[The initial] case … had no realistic prospect of success, as the SFO belatedly accepted.  The other iterations were attempts to save a fatally-holed ship, that presented as a sequence of different cases that stood no real prospect of success or were in essence too late.” 

 

The Court found in, wholly exceptionally, awarding criminal costs and in awarding civil costs on an indemnity basis that “… the SFO never approached this case with the requisite degree of legal analytical care or precision.” 

 

Patrick Harrington QC, of Farrar's Building and John de Waal QC, specialist Chancery Silk led Ben.  They were instructed by Philip Williams and Emma Harris Blackfords Solicitors, South Wales' leading fraud specialists.

"Miracle Baby" Conviction

Ben Douglas-Jones has secured a conviction in a “miracle baby” case.  

 

In R v Ediae, a woman who faked her own pregnancy after years of infertility was convicted of smuggling a child into Britain after buying it from a Nigerian “baby farm” and passing it off as her own.  

 

The conviction followed two recent High Court cases in which judges were satisfied that putative mothers had been duped by Nigeria herbal “doctors” into genuinely believing they had given birth.

 

Press Coverage: The IndependentDaily Examiner 

Winning Appeal

Ben Douglas-Jones, led by John McGuinness QC appeared for the Crown in the conjoined appeals of R v Issa, Mulugeta and Firouzi [2015] EWCA Crim 6.

 

The Court (Macur LJ giving the judgment) restated the principles in R v Mateta [2014] 1 WLR 1516, the recent leading case where a defendant’s representatives in the Crown Court fail to advise him that he has a defence to a document offence on the ground that he is an asylum seeker.  

 

Ben also appeared in Mateta.  Firouzi raises an important point of principle: where a defendant asserts that he should have been enabled to run a s.31 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 defence in the Crown Court, it is not necessary in the Court of Appeal to adduce evidence in support of certain limbs of that defence.

Human Trafficking Conviction "Unsafe"

Ben Douglas-Jones, acting for the Crown in R v Y, conceded that a conviction for using a false passport was unsafe where her legal team in the Crown Court failed to identify her as a possible victim of human trafficking.  

 

She had been subjected to years of exorcism “treatment”, Ju-Ju magic rituals and repeated rape in Nigeria.  She was trafficked by a stranger to the UK and sold as a domestic and sex slave.

 

 The passport offence had been committed to enable her to escape from her trafficking situation. The Court endorsed the caselaw in R v O [2011] EWCA Crim 2226; and R v LZ [2012] EWCA Crim 1867 as good law following the definitive approach of the Special Court (Lord Judge) in R v T, THN, HVN and L [2013] EWCA Crim 991.

 

 In O, LZ and Y the Court of Appeal adopted BD-J’s suggested approach to the breach of international law involved in prosecuting a victim of human trafficking where no-one could be criticised for not identifying her as such at the time.  Namely: where information becomes known, showing that someone was a victim of trafficking and where she would not have been prosecuted had that information been known at the time of prosecution, the conviction is unsafe.  This is notwithstanding an unequivocal guilty plea

SFO Loses Celtic Energy Fight

Ben Douglas-Jones has successfully defended Eric Evans from his prosecution by The Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

 

The SFO had applied to the High Court in London for a voluntary bill of indictment following the collapse of the trial against directors, solicitors (including Mr Evans) and a QC involved with running and advising the South Wales opencast miner, Celtic Energy.

 

Lord Justice Fulford did not agree with the SFO and, in his judgement, condemned the agency stating that its "repeated shifts in stance" had "operated to the real prejudice of the accused." 

 

Press Coverage: Financial Times / Private  Eye

Ben Douglas-Jones - Ranking High

Ben Douglas-Jones has ranked in Fraud, Consumer and Crime in the Legal 500 for the UK Bar.  

 

In the consumer field, Legal 500 cited Ben's ‘Outstanding strategic awareness.' Meanwhile, in crime, the directory described him as ‘Commercially savvy, with a sharp intellect and concise delivery’.

 

Ben also ranked highly in fraud. In this area, Legal 500 stated that Ben ‘Has a sharp intellect and is commercially savvy’.

Match Fixing Scandal

Ben Douglas-Jones, led by Mark Wyeth QC, secured the acquittal of footballer in what the Daily Telegraph called English football's biggest match fixing scandal.

 

Hakeem Adelakun, a Crystal Palace Academy player (pictured), was found not guilty unanimously by a jury in Birmingham Crown Court following a five week trial.

 

The acquittal followed legal argument which saw the removal of five counts from the indictment following submissions on Mr Adelakun's behalf with which the judge agreed.

 

The essence of his case was that he was duped into attending a meeting with an undercover National Crime Agency officer on the false premise that it was with a football agent.

 

Mr Adelakun is one of the first people ever to be tried under the Bribery Act. He is the only person ever to have been acquitted of a Bribery Act offence.

 

Press Coverage: The Independent / BBC News 

Landmark Supreme Court Victory For The Serious Fraud Office

SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE V O'BRIEN [2014] UKSC 23

 Serious Fraud Office V O'Brien is a massive, landmark legal victory for the Serious Fraud Office. Ben, together with Edward Jenkins QC represented the SFO.

 

On 26th March 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that the SFO is right that disobedience of a pre-trial criminal restraint order is a civil contempt of court.

 

It is not a criminal offence. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found that civil contempt is not extraditable- even though it attracts a 2 year sentence.

 

O'Brien was in Chicago. He was found by the Old Bailey to be in contempt of court. He was extradited to the UK for a boiler room fraud. He was not extradited for the contempt. The Common Serjeant sent O'Brien to prison for 15 months for the contempt.

 

O'Brien appealed. He argued that the contempt was a criminal offence. He said he should not have been dealt with for that offence: he had not been extradited for it.

 

The Court of Appeal disagreed. So did the Supreme Court. They both agreed with the SFO.

 

Had the SFO lost the case, the implications would have been massive. Restraint orders are enforceable in the same way as freezing, search and disclosure orders. Had the SFO lost the case, parties to civil, commercial claims would have had to seek the extradition of other parties who refused to comply with court orders.

SFO Blockbuster Case Collapses

After five days of legal submissions, Mr Justice Hickinbottom has dismissed a charge of conspiracy to defraud against five defendants in a commercial transaction worth £170 million.

 

Another defendant, Richard Walters, who did not participate in the dismissal application also benefitted from the decision.

 

Ben represented the first Defendant, Eric Evans (pictured), as specialist fraud and regulatory Counsel.

 

He was led by criminal Silk, Patrick Harrington QC, of Farrar's Building and John de Waal QC, specialist Chancery Silk.

 

They were instructed by Blackfords Solicitors, South Wales' leading fraud specialists.

 

The Defendants, a retired consultant solicitor, Eric Evans, his professional partner, Alan Whiteley, and assistant solicitor, Frances Bodman, had set up a complex commercial transaction involving opencast mining sites and restoration obligations. A fifth defendant, Stephen Davies QC, had advised on the legality of the scheme.

 

Central to the scheme was Celtic Energy Ltd, South Wales' most successful mining company, whose 100% shareholder, Richard Walters, and their finance director, Leighton Humphreys, were also charged.

 

Mr Evans and Mr Humphreys had always vehemently denied having done anything wrong and were indeed keen to show that their conduct was commercially adept.

 

Press Coverage: BBC / The Law Society Gazette

Further Success In Mortgage Fraud Trial

Four more people have been jailed after the second trial arising from Operation Valgus, the investigation into one of the biggest mortgage frauds ever tried in England and Wales.

 

Ben, led by Patrick Harrington QC of Farrar's Building, prosecuted the two couples on behalf of the Central Fraud Group, based in London.

 

In Caernarfon Crown Court, Judge Rhys Rowlands jailed Nicola and Brendan Spencer-Whalley and Chris Hansen for two years. Meanwhile, Lisa Hansen was jailed for 22 months. He stated that the two couples (pictured left) were guilty of conspiring to falsify mortgage documents and had been motivated by greed.

 

Meanwhile, Ray Whalley, and a further two people who ran a mortgage application company were given community service orders after admitting lesser charges.

 

This is the second of three trials brought as a result of Operation Valgus. The first saw the convictions of five defendants (click here). The third trial is pending.

 

Press Coverage: BBC 

Counterfeit Tobacco On Industrial Scale 

Ben recently represented a defendant in Operation Hippolamp - a case involving the production of Counterfeit Golden Virginia tobacco on an industrial scale in which £140 million pounds worth of Excise was evaded.

 

He appeared for a “facilitator” near the top of the chain of command, who was sentenced to two years and two  months imprisonment following a guilty plea.

 

Press Coverage: Express and StarThe Business Desk

 

Court Of Appeal Criticises Defence Of Refugees

Ben Douglas-Jones (led by John McGuinness QC) appeared for the Crown before Lords Justices Leveson and Fulford and Mr Justice Spencer, sitting as a Special Court of the Court of Appeal, yesterday in conjoined appeals concerning defence lawyers’ failure to advise clients of the refugee defence to document offences. 

 

Ben has been in several leading cases concerning this issue. 

 

The Court set out guidance for the advice that needs to be given, how it should be recorded and the correct approach to appeals following the cases of MA and Sadighpour (in which Ben also appeared).

 

Press Coverage: Channel 4 NewsThe Independent 

 

Human Trafficking Appeal

Ben Douglas-Jones, led by Tim Owen QC, appeared for the Crown in a further series of conjoined appeals regarding how victims of human trafficking who commit criminal offences should be treated by the courts - L, HVN, THN, T v. R [2013] EWCA Crim 991.

 

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made clear that victims of human trafficking are victims of crime, and must be treated as such, but emphasised that having been trafficked neither provides immunity from prosecution nor a substantive defence to any criminal charge. 

 

It is for prosecutorial discretion to provide 'a level of protection from prosecution or punishment for trafficked victims who have been compelled to commit criminal offences'.

 

The role of the court, exercised through its jurisdiction to stay proceedings that amount to an abuse of the court's process, 'protects the rights of a victim of trafficking by overseeing the decision of the prosecutor and refusing to countenance any prosecution which fails to acknowledge and address the victim’s subservient situation, and the international obligations to which the United Kingdom is a party'.

 

It is in situations where a person was 'under levels of compulsion which mean that in reality culpability was extinguished' that an abuse of process submission is likely to succeed.

 

Click here for the Judicial Office's summary of the judgment.

 

Press Coverage: The Times

 

Successful Appeal For Trafficking Victims 

Three children from Vietnam, who were trafficked to the UK and forced to work for criminal gangs have had their criminal convictions quashed following a successful appeal by Ben Douglas-Jones.

 

The children had been forced to work in cannabis factories and were arrested after police raids. They were later convicted of drug offenses.

 

After overturning their convictions, the Court of Appeal issued new guidance to courts about how trafficking victims should be treated by the criminal justice system.   

 

Press Coverage:

BBC News

Successful Prosecution Of Counterfeit Condoms

Ben Douglas-Jones recently successfully prosecuted a case involving the importation of counterfeit condoms.

 

Press Coverage:

Daily Mirror

Daily Mail

Ben Douglas-Jones Recieves Judicial Commendation

Ben Douglas-Jones and Justin Cole have been judicially commended by HHJ Ross for their conduct of a complex and substantial drugs importation trial at the Crown Court at Reading. 

  

The case brought together six separate investigations by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the UKBA and Police.  It involved over 2½ tonnes of cannabis and 20 kilograms of cocaine. 

 

The six men indicted were all convicted, with the first defendant receiving a sentence of 24 years’ imprisonment.

Court Of Appeal Rejects Refugee Defence Argument

Ben Douglas-Jones, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service, has successfully argued that where the First-tier Tribunal has rejected an applicant’s claim for refugee status, and that applicant seeks to rely upon the refugee defence under s.31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 in criminal proceedings, the legal burden to show that he is a refugee falls on him.

 

The case - R v. Sadighpour [2012] EWCA Crim 2669 - is also an important authority for how the Court of Appeal should approach a decision of the First-tier Tribunal when considering whether or not an appellant has reasonable prospects of advancing the refugee defence and whether or not his conviction is safe where he was not advised that he could run the refugee defence in the Crown Court.

 

Notwithstanding the failure of the appellant's advisors in the court below, the Court was 'entirely satisfied' that the appellant would fail to make out the defence, and accordingly dismissed the appeal. 

Banker Jailed For Fraud

Ben Douglas-Jones successfully prosecuted bank manager Lorna Keary for committing a serious financial fraud.

 

The fraud involved identity theft and the creation of bogus bank accounts in order to steal tens of thousands of pounds by which to fund her lavish lifestyle.

Keary was jailed for three years.

 

Press Coverage:

The Independent

The Mirror

Kent Online

Success In Biggest Factoring Fraud Prosecution

Ben Douglas-Jones successfully prosecuted  three individuals behind the biggest (£110 million) factoring fraud there has ever been in the UK.

 

The fraud was described as being of staggering proportions involving over 900 false invoices and dozens of victims. It caused the collapse of both of the companies involved and put other related companies and one bank department out of business.

 

The defendants received sentences ranging from three years to eight years  eight months, with the main fraudster, Max Fraser, also being disqualified from being a director for 15 years.

 

The confiscation orders made comprised the largest confiscation orders ever made in a Leicestershire Police case.

 

Ben was led in this case by Miranda Moore QC

 

Press coverage: BBC News BBC News (regarding confiscation) / The Belfast Telegraph / The Northern Echo / Leicester Mercury

Car Ringing Gang Jailed

Ben Douglas-Jones has successfully  prosecuted an East London car ringing gang.

The gang was jailed for a total of eight and a half years.

 

The five men gave stolen motors new identities from vehicles that had been exported to Cyprus.

 

Press Coverage:

London 24

"Malicious" Dance Teacher Jailed

Ben Douglas-Jones successfully prosecuted a dance teacher who forged more than 100 exam certificates. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

 

The teacher gave her dance students higher grades on forged certificates to bolster the reputation of her dance academy, which had bases in Purley and Sanderstead.  

 

When she discovered that she had been exposed by a mother of one of her pupils, the teacher began a two year smear campaign against others involved in her dance school in order to make it look like she had been the victim of forgers.

 

 

Colin Stagg awarded £706,000 Compensation

Ben Douglas-Jones (pictured on the left) ssecured £706,000 in compensation for Colin Stagg, who was cleared of murdering Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

 

Stagg spent a year in custody before the judge ruled that key prosecution evidence involving an undercover woman detective was inadmissible.

 

The police aim was to coax a confession from him, but the judge dismissed it as "deceptive conduct of the grossest kind".

 

Press Coverage:

The Lawyer / The Guardian / BBC News 

Man Jailed For Des O'Connor Fraud

Ben Douglas-Jones successfully prosecuted a sales assistant in a £169,000 credit card fraud.

 

Olanrewjau Apalara used his mobile phone to record the card details of customers at John Lewis in central London.

 

UK talk show host Des O'Connor was one of the many victims of this fraud. Apalara was jailed for 18 months. 

 

Press coverage: 

BBC News Daily Mail / Metro

Forfeiture Success

Ben Douglas-Jones, acting for the legatees of the Will of the alleged gangster Roy Francis Adkins in forfeiture proceedings, secured the release of £900,000.  

 

The Metropolitan Police had detained it as alleged criminal property.  They said the money came from drug and gun running.  They relied on the reputation of Roy Francis Adkins as a gangster who was supposed to have killed the “great” train robber Charlie White.

 

The Police argued that Mr Adkins was the right hand man of the Amsterdam drugs lord Klaas Bruinsma. They relied on the allegation that it was Bruinsma who had shot Adkins outside the Nightwatchman Bar in Amsterdam in 1990.  Ben was instructed by Seamus Austin of Tuckers via a damages based agreement.

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Tycoon Jailed After £38m Barclays Fraud

Ben Douglas-Jones has successfully prosecuted Nicholas Marcou for a fraud against Barclays Bank worth over £38m.

 

Marcou, described by Judge Michael Grieve QC as being charismatic but also dishonest, conned Barclays into giving him considerable sums of cash based on thousands of deals with supermarkets. Those deals did not exist.

 

The case concerns a fresh-air invoicing fraud. "Nicholas Marcou was at the relevant time the managing director of Abacus Trading Company Limited," explains Ben. "‘Abacus would obtain trade finance in the course of its business from Barclays. This finance would take the form of advances made by the bank against invoices issued by Abacus to its trade customers.

 

"The fraud worked by providing a very large number of false invoice details, in effect a representation in each case that a genuine trade had taken place when it had not. Money was advanced by the bank as a result of and in reliance upon those false representations. In this way money was obtained by Barclays by fraud."

 

Ben adds that "Nicholas repeatedly negotiated with the bank to raise the amount of cash they would hand over on the basis of the bogus invoices. He was able, as the front man, to use clearly considerable charisma and charm to influence Barclays into increasing levels of lending to a very significant degree indeed."

 

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