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The news that Big Ben will cease to ring following the chimes at noon on Monday 21 August was met with opposition from both MPs and the media. The restoration project has been planned since 2015 and details of the project approved by three parliamentary committees. Part of these plans include silencing the bell until 2021 while the restoration work takes place with exceptions being made for special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and  New Year’s Eve.  Continue reading

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There has been much confusion and misreporting about corporate manslaughter in the last 24 hours. To correct some common misunderstandings, and in the light of the Lord Chancellor’s  plans for a greater public understanding of the legal system, here are some facts on corporate manslaughter prosecutions in England and Wales.  Continue reading

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This week saw the publication of two reports: a joint report from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspector of Constabulary, and The Mouncher Investigation Report by Richard Horwell QC, both highly critical of the way the police and the CPS handle disclosure, and calling for significant change.

Many criminal practitioners will feel a strong sense of déjà vu when reading another report detailing the various failings of the disclosure process. In 2013, the DPP published a report by HMCPSI into serious failings in the disclosure process that led to a miscarriage of justice in R v Mouncher. A decade earlier, a number of prosecutions brought by HM Customs & Excise were overturned when customs officers deliberately withheld information that a critical prosecution witness was a registered informant in the infamous LCB prosecutions.  A common theme in the failings seems to be some police officers and prosecutors treating the disclosure process as some form of side issue, rather than a vital part of the criminal justice system. Continue reading

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Somewhat discreetly, as reported in CivilServiceWorld, the government has suggested that its plan to abolish the Serious Fraud Office has been put on hold. The 2017 Conservative manifesto committed to disbanding the SFO and incorporating its responsibilities into the National Crime Agency.  This was a decision not well received by practically every practitioner and commentator, including the former Chancellor George Osbourne, who dedicated the lead editorial in the Evening Standard to  setting out the reasons for retaining the organisation.   The reasons to save the SFO as expressed by business crime practitioners were covered in detail in Blog, Ten reasons to save the SFO.

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To mark the anniversary of the referendum on leaving the EU, Thomson Reuters planned another Legal Debate. The motion for this debate in the successful series was Post Brexit: Tax haven status will make Britain great again!

The debate promised controversial views and lively argument from accomplished speakers. For many, tax havens conjure headlines of scandal, money laundering and corruption, but could this be a viable path for the UK to take following a hard Brexit? In the time between arranging the debate and the date it was held, the political landscape had changed significantly and the intervening general election reduced the mandate for a hard Brexit. Continue reading

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The Conservative Party has published its 2017 Manifesto, entitled “Forward together: Our plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future”. The manifesto includes a commitment to strengthen Britain’s response to white collar crime by incorporating the Serious Fraud Office into the National Crime Agency, improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime.

There are numerous reasons to be critical of this commitment. The top ten are: Continue reading

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An announcement that the CPS will not be bringing a prosecution rarely makes front page news. On 10 May 2017, the news that no charges would be brought following a high profile police investigation into allegations concerning the expenditure of Conservative Party candidates during the 2015 General Election campaign did just that. The allegations were investigated by 14 police forces, and were said to concern several parliamentary candidates, including serving MPs, and their election agents allegedly submitting inaccurate expense returns.

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In criminal law, the law surrounding the concept of dishonesty, an element in many charges, has been largely settled since 1982, by the famous judgement of Lord Lane in R v Ghosh, requiring both proof of subjective and objective dishonesty. The issue has been less clear in regulatory cases, and was seemingly turned on its head by the judgement in Malins v SRA [2017] EWHC 835.

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The Education Act 1996 is a wide ranging piece of legislation, much of which is now repealed, comprising of 583 sections and an additional 40 schedules. Those involved in drafting the Act, more than 20 years ago, probably did not expect that in the future a Supreme Court of England and Wales would need to interpret a single word in section 444(1) in one of the most high profile and controversial legal cases for some time. Continue reading