Following the recent collapse of the rape trial against Liam Allan, as widely reported in the press, John Veale of Kangs Solicitors comments upon the duty to disclose to the defence the material that comes to the attention of the Prosecution (‘disclosure’).
The Circumstances | Kangs Serious Crime Advisory Solicitors
- Mr Allan was charged with rape and had waited two years for his trial.
- Conviction would have meant a prison sentence in double figures and a life time on the Sexual Offenders Register.
- On the face of it, the evidence was substantially the defendant’s word against his alleged victim.
- During the course of the Trial it was discovered that important evidence had been withheld from the accused’s defence by the police disclosure officer.
- The retained evidence exonerated Mr Allan in respect of the allegations made against him.
The Undisclosed Evidence | Kangs National Serious Crime Team
- The alleged victim had transmitted text messages to Mr Allan, after the alleged crime had been committed, asking Mr Allan for more sex which she wished to be of a violent nature.
- She had also sent text messages to friends of a nature which made it clear that no crime had been committed.
Despite their obvious huge importance to the preparation of Mr Allan’s defence, these text messages were never disclosed, even though there existence was apparent as he had referred to them whilst being interviewed by the police.
The Correct Disclosure Procedure | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
- The Prosecution is obliged to provide the defence with a list of the evidence that has been collected by the investigating authority but which is not being relied upon in the presentation of the prosecution case (‘the unused material’).
- Once the defendant has served a document indicating the defence position, the disclosure officer in the case must consider the list of unused material and provide the defence with such further material that:
- undermines the prosecution case and/or:
- supports the defence case.
Disclosure is therefore a vital component in the criminal justice system, the process for which is set out in detail for the prosecution to follow. If the disclosure process is not followed properly, this can lead to a miscarriage of justice.
Disclosure Problems | Kangs Disclosure Experts
In Mr Allan’s case the issues were comparatively straight forward and, in reality, the volume of evidence was so minimal that it ought not to have created a problem for the prosecution.
In more substantial and complex cases, failure by the prosecution to conduct proper disclosure can be far more difficult to detect and unravel.
Kangs Solicitors are frequently instructed in the defence of prosecutions involving tens of thousands of pages of unused material deriving from many sources including, for example, computer downloads.
For certain types of complex case, the volumes are so great and the technicalities so involved that the prosecution are required to provide a Disclosure Policy and Methodology in order to help ensure that there is proper disclosure to the defence of all potentially relevant material.
How Can We Assist? | Kangs National Serious Crime Team
We have succeeded in having major cases stayed for abuse of process due to failings in disclosure.
Our team is led by Hamraj Kang who is recognised as a leading expert in the field. He is one of only two solicitors nationally to be ranked as a ‘star individual’ for three consecutive years in the legal directory Chambers & Partners.
Other members of the team are ranked in the Legal 500 and also ranked in Chambers & Partners.
You should not hesitate to contact: