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Fraud case collapse due to lack of disclosure and conflicted Experts
Simon Berney-Edwards
/ Categories: Industry News

Fraud case collapse due to lack of disclosure and conflicted Experts

A £3 million diamond fraud trial has collapsed at Southwark Crown Court today after Crown Prosecution Service failings in the disclosure of evidence and their Expert Witnesses found to have conflicts of interest.

 

Prosecutors claimed around 200 victims, many of whom were elderly, were conned after being convinced to buy coloured stones at a 600% mark up.

 

But the case collapsed on Friday 15th October when it was found that the Crown Prosecution Service had failed to disclose evidence to the defence.

 

EWI members will also be interested to learn that it was also highlighted that the prosecution's Expert Witnesses had also been found to have a conflict of interest and therefore it had been agreed that they would not be called to give evidence.

 

The Metropolitan Police instructed expert witnesses employed by Dreweatts auctioneers and valuers, a company which had a contract with the force to auction jewellery and watches seized in raids and prosecutions.

 

Narita Bahra QC who was representing one of the defendents said “At the time of instruction the company was awaiting the outcome of their tender for the contract to be renewed. “The prosecution initially did not disclose the offer of a conditional fee agreement by the experts to the police who were paying their fees. Those experts had already given evidence in another trial, in the middle of their contract with the Metropolitan police where their relationship with the police was not disclosed.”

 

David Durose QC who was representing the prosectution said he would not call the experts from Dreweatts, who were instructed to give expert evidence about how much the diamonds were worth.

 

He said the CPS accepted “that the experts were not instructed in a way consistent with the criminal procedure rules”, adding: “The timing of the instruction was unfortunate given the ongoing tender process."

 

“While we do not consider the two witnesses are at fault or unreliable it would be disproportionate to delay the trial to litigate these matters.”

 

Narita Bahra QC compared the case to a multimillion-pound carbon credit and diamond fraud trial which collapsed when the expert witness Andrew Ager was found to be unqualified, calling into question more than 20 other trials he was involved in.

 

Simon Berney-Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of the Expert Witness Institute, said

 

"The Expert Witness Institute promotes the importance of impartial, independent expertise to support the proper administration of justice. Our members sign up for a code of conduct which embodies this.

 

Is it not time that the Judiciary consider the importance of the proper regulation of Expert Witnesses and seek to ensure that anyone giving evidence in cases have the relevant training and sign up to a code of conduct such as ours? There have been countless cases over the last few months of people putting themselves forward as Experts who clearly do not understand the role and duties of an Expert Witness. In this case, the CPS conceeded that they shouldn't have put the Experts forward. But the Experts should have declined the instruction in the first instance given the conflict of interest. 

 

How much public money will need to be wasted before the regulation of Experts is considered?"

 

 

If you are an Expert and have concerns about Conflicts of Interest - why not check out our recorded webinar which is availble to purchase in our web shop

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