Following a £2million Metropolitan Police investigation Carl Beech from Gloucester was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
Operation Midland was a 2 year investigation into allegations made by Beech whereby he accused senior politicians, army and security chiefs including former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, former Labour MP Lord Janner and ex MI6 boss Sir Maurice Oldfield, MP Harvey Proctor and the former head of MI5 Sir Michael Hanley. Homes simultaneously raided by the police as part of the investigation.
The Met Police’s deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House has accepted his force “did not get everything right” but what good is that to the victims of false allegations?
Is there a pattern forming here with allegations against high profile individuals not being investigated as thoroughly as one would expect?
The police undoubtedly have a duty to the public but what about the accused? What about the effect the investigation has upon the accused and their family even if they are not a well known figure?
Here at Ralli Solicitors LLP we can tell you, it is total devastation. That is no exaggeration.
The police are under a duty to investigate, and investigate thoroughly. The evidence should be tested properly and questioned.
When the police fall short in their duties they ruin lives. Is this new? No it isn’t.
What appears to happen is when a famous name is given to the police as a potential abuser, the evidential blinkers appear. They don’t investigate as they should; they fail in their duties to test the evidence, they fail in their disclosure duties. The circle is a poisonous one.
Unless you have been that wrongly accused person it is impossible to understand the absolute devastation worry and anxiety for all those around him/her.
So is there anything that you can do if you are accused of something you didn’t do to ensure the police look at all the evidence with the scrutiny that’s required?
The criminal defence team at Ralli Solicitors LLP believe that the police interview is a good place to start.
Historic allegations usually are one person’s word against the other, no CCTV, DNA, mobile phone or cell site analysis you could expect in other alleged offences.
In our opinion the best advice is good preparation at the initial stages where possible.
Before you attend any interview, a full and frank discussion with the best solicitor you can afford is crucial, they will then attend the police interview with you. It is a huge advantage to have a key member of your investigation team in the police interview.
Either before or at the police station your solicitor will ask the police for disclosure which should be sufficient to evaluate the allegations being made against you and for your solicitor to advise you on what has been disclosed.
Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council – 22nd May 2012 which relates to the right to information in criminal proceedings. It states “persons accused of having committed a criminal offence should be given all the information on the accusation necessary to enable them to prepare their defence and to safeguard the fairness of the proceedings. This should be given promptly or at the latest before their first official interview”.
During the discussion between you and your solicitor it will become apparent whether something is missing from the disclosure, something you would expect to see or hear about the allegations being made against you. Experience is key here which is why the best experienced solicitor you can find is crucial.
Where possible we try to get the disclosure before you go to the police station although this will not be possible where there is a high profile; early dawn swoop rather than a pre arranged appointment. The disclosure in these circumstances still has to be provided prior to any interview taking place.
The role of your solicitor during an interview is set out in Code C of the Codes of Practice which is to: ‘protect and advance your legal rights’. Your solicitor can intervene in order to seek clarification; intervene to challenge an improper question or the manner in which the question is being put.
After the interview and if you are charged; your solicitor will then prepare a case plan with you which will focus on material the police have in their possession that hasn’t previously been disclosed, material they ought to have obtained but have not.
That fight starts right at the beginning of any case.
In effect you are re tracing the investigative aspect of the allegations in order to prove your innocence.
In the case of Carl Beech, Sir Cliff Richard, and many others, it is not acceptable to simply say “we didn’t get things right”. Until there is a change of attitude with the prosecuting authorities, having the best solicitor is your only hope of a fair fight.
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This blog was written by: Lynn Mahon
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this post sets out the general position under the general law. It should not be acted upon in any specific circumstances without taking specific legal advice as to those circumstances. Also, it should not be relied upon, acted upon or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. If you do require specific advice please contact us for assistance.