Monthly Archives: April 2015

Pledge For Justice

The following pledge can be signed by any PPC in the 2016 Election if they care about Justice and support Legal Aid

LEGAL AID PLEDGE  For a just and fair society 

The most recent You-Gov poll on access to justice found that 84% of people said legal aid and a fair trial were fundamental rights. I agree!

If elected as an MP I pledge that :- 

1.    I will seek to ensure that the principle of access to justice for all will be upheld and protected

2.     I will ensure that the integrity of an independent justice system is maintained and promoted

3.    I will not support any further cuts to the legal aid budget in the next Parliament

4.    I will support a review of access to justice within the first year of a new parliament to consider the effect of cumulative cuts and changes to legal aid funding.





1 The Vote For Justice campaign was first organised by the LCCSA, for the 2015 election, and backed by Justice Campaigners and Legal Aid Supporters. It is non-Party Political, but campaigners will actively promote candidates of any party who sign (for example in Haringey at the last election, we supported Catherine West who signed the pledge, unseating incumbent Lynne Featherstone who did not)

2 See Here for covering letter inviting PPCs to sign the Justice Pledge.


Book Review: Sexual Offences- a Practitioners Guide (Richardson/Clark)

Book Review: 

Richardson and Clark: Sexual Offences – A Practitioners Guide  (Publ. Bloomsbury )

Many LCCSA practitioners will have benefited from the recent CPD talk “everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask”.

Richardson and Clarks book sets out not only to provide the basic information you need to know, but how to put it into practice.

LCCSA member Nigel Richardson heads the criminal department at HJA and sits as a deputy District Judge.

Peter Clark is a barrister at 187 Fleet St. who specialises in sex cases. There is no doubting their combined experience, but knowledge doesn’t always translate into a good book. 

Thankfully, this time, the authors have accomplished exactly what is set out in the sub-title: a “practitioners guide”.

This book comes at the right time. The government have confirmed their intention to enact as policy what has been a much-trailed and anticipated policy announcement relating to compulsory training for advocates undertaking sex cases. 

This development is to be welcomed, as poorly conducted cases lead to trauma for victims and witnesses, miscarriages of justice, and bring the profession into disrepute. 

The foundation of any training is knowledge of the law, procedure and practice, and this text serves as a useful refresher, a summary of current legislation and case-law, and a guide on every aspect of both litigation and case preparation.

This guide covers every aspect up to and including sentence and the new guidelines, SOPOs and the sex offenders register.

I haven’t read the book from cover to cover-it’s not that kind of book- but the guide Set out clearly, well indexed,And extensively referenced.

Any practitioners guide has to be user friendly, and I was able to put this to the test as I was reviewing this book whilst defending in a sex case at Woolwich Crown Court. 

The evidence against a Co-Defendant by the key witness departed substantially from anticipated evidence and left a question mark on whether there was a case to answer on a Sex Assault Count. The issue became whether the touching was “sexual”,  and this book had the relevant provisions in a distinct chapter (chapter 2) together with discussion and comment. It passed the test, going beyond the basic definition which Archbold provided, and led to the foundation of a submission of no case to answer.


Part A of the book divides the law into concepts (consent, sexual, penetration, intoxication) which are relevant to the numerous offences, each offence is then considered individually in parts B and C.

What distinguishes this from other text books and makes it truly a “practitioner” guide is the inclusion of additional topics such as how to deal with PII, medical evidence and toxicology, DNA, previous inconsistent statements and so on. 

There is also guidance for “historic” sex offences, examples of which seem to be in the news so frequently at the moment. There seems to be little prospect of using abuse of process to stay sex cases for delay, following a case the book cites from 2013 (R v RD ) where proceedings were started after a delay of 63 years. Given the difficulties for witnesses recalling facts and dates after the passage of many years (think of Rolf Harris who tried to run alibi for one charge but didn’t remember that he had ever been filmed for a TV programme in that very location at the relevant time) the  authors are understandably troubled by the prospect that a chance of acquittal may depend on whether or not a Defendant has “hoarded” a diary or documentary evidence.

The DPP has recently  issued new guidance and protocols for prosecuting historic sex cases: they are not referenced in this book and should be examined in addition by anyone advising on historic abuse. What this guide does have however is chapters dealing with offences under previous legislation such as the 1956 sex Offences Act, which need to be revisited in historic allegations.

Another subject (contributed by LCCSA member Samira Noor-Khan) as a distinct topic is police station attendances Advocates will know that often cases are won or lost in the police station, and arguably in sex cases more than others the decision whether to answer questions or make no comment has potentially huge ramifications for cases that inevitably end up before a jury. 

In the days of the “old” caution (before adverse inferences) when every adviser in almost every case advised “No Comment” raising “Consent” as an issue was considered an honourable exception. But then, as now, each case is fact specific and suspects deserve proper advice from experienced lawyers. I recently saw a firm of solicitors seeking an agent to attend a police station late at night to advise a 15 year old accused of rape. The fee offered was £100. I hope they found someone who knew what they were doing. Whoever attended, it would have done no harm to have this practitioners guide for reference, (along with Ed Cape’s indispensable guide to police stations)

Like all books, this guide is stronger in some areas than others. The section on “false statements” (and s41 YJ&CEA generally) is excellent and user friendly.

A section on “bail” by contrast is not informative, and there is for example no advice or commentary on excessive bail periods, so prevalent in sex-case investigations (and currently quote topical, with promised legislation following high-profile investigations such as Paul Gambicinni) 

I would also have liked to see a section about advocacy, particularly as a framework for the forthcoming compulsory training referred to above).

But these are minor niggles in what is generally a useful asset to the lawyers armoury:- in short a concise, practical guide to the labyrinthine legislation and the over-riding topics. 

One omission that members who attended Prof Ormerods presentation at the LCCSA conference in Alicante may spot is the case of Thompson (2014) about sexual touching (the appellant with aspergers touching a minor in circumstances where he may not have realised it to be “sexual”)

There is also no mention of the recently reported case of R v Kamki [2013] EWCA Crim 2335 which deals with lack of consent in intoxication cases, and publication was too early for an important case dealing with consent and mental capacity (Avanzi 2014). These cases and others demonstrate the area of sex-crime is ever-evolving, and only this month we learned of proposals trumpeted by the MOJ  specifically to deal with “revenge-porn” , which many of us were foolish to think was already illegal. No doubt, in due course we will need a second edition of this guide.

Until then, there should be a copy in the library of every criminal firm, and if there is not, you will have to buy your own or risk being caught out next time you are advising or representing in this area.


Modern Slavery Act – a synopsis (Guest Blog by Ben Ticehurst)

The following is a guest blog by solicitor Ben Ticehurst of  E.M.M. Solicitors  

The Modern Slavery Act 2015


The Modern Slavery Bill received Royal Assent on the 26th March 2015. Following the announcement of Royal Assent, Unicef Director David Bull said:

The passing of the Modern Slavery Bill into law is an historic moment in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. Unicef UK is proud that the UK has committed to stamping out these horrific crimes and, in particular, to protecting vulnerable children.

Why the need for new legislation?

The Global Slavery Index 2014 reported that over 35 million people are trapped in slavery across the world today. Modern slavery takes multiple forms including forced labour and human trafficking, and is found across the economic sphere in domestic servitude, the sex trade, on farms, building sites and in factories. Many are working in terrible conditions for extremely long hours, for little or no pay, and are vulnerable to verbal and physical abuse.

The National Crime Agency suggests that the number of victims of trafficking in the UK rose by 22 per cent from 2012 to 2013 and these numbers are continually on the rise globally as well.

In the UK, around 60% of children rescued from trafficking have gone missing from social services. Those working as foreign domestic workers on a tied visa (about 15,000 each year), meaning that they are tied to one employer for the duration of their stay, are unable to leave their houses unaccompanied or find alternative jobs to escape abusive employers without becoming criminalised. 

Until now, there were three pieces of legislation on slavery and trafficking that are scattered, impractical and therefore difficult to use. As a result, there were only 8 convictions of human trafficking in the UK in 2011. There have been calls for the law was to be on the side of victims of slavery and trafficking and so the new Modern Slavery Bill, has been hugely welcomed as it is pivotal to ensuring victims of abuse are found, cared for and receive justice for crimes committed against them.

A Home Office spokesperson recently said the bill was 

an historic opportunity to get legislation on the statute books that will , for the very first time, address slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century”

Summary of the Act

The Modern Slavery Act brings together current offences of trafficking and slavery, introduces tougher sentences (up to a maximum of life imprisonment) for traffickers, and creates an independent anti-slavery commissioner, likely to be a former police officer. It contains provisions for seizing traffickers’ assets and allows for confiscation proceedings (section 7) under the Proceeds of Crime act 2002 (POCA 2002). It also allows for the channelling of traffickers money towards victims, by way of compensation payments (section 9).

It is hoped the Act will provide greater protection for victims and improve the prospects for prosecuting perpetrators

The Act includes provision to defend those that have been forced to commit crimes as victims of slavery or exploitation (section 45). This includes a defence for child victims against prosecution for crimes committed directly as a consequence of their trafficking.

The provisions to protect children are continued in that Section 48 creates ‘Child Trafficking Advocates’ who will support and represent any child that has been the victim of human trafficking. The Act also sets out a ‘presumption about age’ (section 51) which means that where is it unclear as to the age of the victim and they could be under 18 years of age then they will be treated as under 18 until it is know otherwise.

The Act will also make a development in relation to corporate responsibility and accountability in an attempt to improve transparency in supply chains (section 54). This will require companies to make a statement detailing the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place within the company or supply chains, or that no such actions have been taken. This step follows the USA, Brazil and Australia who have already made efforts to address modern slavery in supply chains.


There have ben some criticisms of the Bill in that it concentrates on enforcement and prosecution of traffickers as opposed to focusing more on victim protection.

Former conservative MP Anthony Steen has said: 

the prime minister said he wants to drive slavery out of Britain; I am convinced he is committed to doing something about it, but you are not going to catch traffickers unless you have evidence, and you are not going to have any evidence unless you support the victims. The reason why we have so few convictions in Britain is that police scare the living daylights out of victims.”

Barrister Parosha Chandran has commented that the section of the bill that deals with transparency in supply chains does not extend to wholly owned subsidiaries of UK companies abroad. 

She has stated that 

“…the modern slavery bill represents a huge step forward in the development of corporate accountability. Yet we will never really begin to tackle modern slavery unless we ensure that the supply chains of all our companies, whether doing business in the UK or overseas, are not tainted by trafficking, exploitation or abuse.

Andrew Wallis, chief executive of Unseen, a charity that works with the survivors of trafficking and modern slavery, was more inclined to be positive. 

Whilst no legislation is ever perfect it must now be matched by a concerted and collaborative effort to put the provisions of this law into full effect”.

“Many have contributed to the process of drafting this legislation and we have arrived at an

Act that the UK can and should be proud of. There is and always will be more to be done

but it was crucial that this legislation reached the statute books before this parliament ended

so that we have a good foundation upon which to build.”