On 19 May 2021 the Court of Appeal was asked to determine whether a Conclusive Grounds Decision made by the Single Competent Authority (“SCA”) that a person is a victim of modern slavery is admissible evidence in a criminal trial.
Respectfully disagreeing with the decision of the Administrative Court in DPP v M  EWHC 3422 (Admin) (discussed on the Blog here), the Lord Chief Justice held that SCA caseworkers are not experts in human trafficking or modern slavery, further noting that their reports do not comply with the expert evidence requirements set out in CrimPR 19. Therefore, a decision by the SCA is not admissible in a criminal trial.
On 8 February 2020, small but significant changes were made to the Part 3 (Case Management) of the Criminal Procedure Rules and Practice Directions 2020 (“CrimPR”). These changes remove the requirement that defendants in criminal trials provide their nationality to the court at preliminary hearings. The question is now to be asked only where a court passes an immediate or suspended custodial sentence.
The defendants/appellants in this case were a group of activists who have become known as the “Stansted 15”.
On 27 March 2017, the appellants surrounded a Boeing 767 at Stansted Airport which had been chartered by the Home Office for the purpose of deporting 60 individuals to Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Equipped with makeshift tripods made from scaffolding pipes and some builder’s foam, the appellants cut through the perimeter fence of the airport and used the tripods a to lock themselves together, surrounding a plane and using the foam to secure the locking mechanisms. By ‘locking on’ to each other, the group prevented the use of the plane.
DPP v M  EWHC 3422 (Admin) (15 December 2020) — judgment here
On 15 December 2020, the High Court ruled that a positive conclusive grounds decisions by the Single Competent Authority (“SCA”) that a defendant was a victim of trafficking and modern slavery was admissible evidence in a criminal trial where the defendant raises the defence in s.45 Modern Slavery Act 2015 (“MSA 2015”) that the act took place by reason of slavery or exploitation.
M was a 15-year-old boy with no history of offending. On 16 May 2019, he was at a KFC in Tooting, an area of London to which he had he had no connection, along with two other boys (MP and KM) who were known by police to be gang members and habitual knife carriers. When the group were searched by police officers, M had 5 wraps of cocaine, 2 wraps of diamorphine (heroin) and a hunting knife in his possession.
On 23 May 2019, M was referred to the National Referral Mechanism (“NRM”) by Lewisham Children’s Social Care. On 21 August 2019 the Single Competent Authority (“SCA”) made a positive conclusive grounds decision that, on a balance of probabilities, M had been recruited, harboured and transported for the purposes of criminal exploitation.
R v Long, Bowers and Cole  EWCA Crim 1729 (16 December 2020) — judgment here
The Court of Appeal held yesterday morning that the sentences of the three men responsible for the manslaughter of PC Harper in 2019 were neither ‘unduly lenient’ nor ‘manifestly excessive’. The Court rejected applications from both the Defendants and the Attorney General (AG), meaning there will be no substantive change to the manslaughter sentences passed at first instance. The Court also refused to grant permission to two of the co-defendants to appeal against their convictions.
The case concerned the killing of PC Andrew Harper which in August 2019. PC Harper was killed as he tried to apprehend the three defendants, all part of a group of thieves in the process of stealing a quad bike. As the defendants made off at speed in a car driven by the first Defendant (Henry Long), PC Harper was caught and dragged for more than a mile behind the car.
Long (18 at the time, now 19) alongside co-defendants Albert Bowers (17 now 18) and Jessie Cole (17 now 18), were jointly charged with conspiracy to steal, murder and manslaughter. In the lead-up to trial, all three pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to steal, and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter. On 24 July 2020, after a 5-week trial at the Central Criminal Court, all three were acquitted of murder, but Bowers and Cole were found to be guilty of manslaughter.
The outcome means that, whilst the jury could be sure that PC Harper died as a consequence of the unlawful acts of the Defendants, they could not be sure that the Defendants actually intended to kill anyone, or to cause anyone really serious harm. In this instance, it means that the jury will have had at least some reasonable doubt as to whether the Defendants knew that they were dragging PC Harper behind them as they drove away.
On 31 July 2020, Long received an extended determinate sentence of 16 years with an extended licence period of 3 years. Bowers and Cole were sentenced to 13 years detention in a Young Offenders Institution. Concurrent sentences were imposed in respect of the conspiracy to steal (32 months for Long, and 38 months for Bowers and Cole).
THE COURT OF APPEAL
There were three applications before the Court of Appeal:
Bowers and Cole applied for leave to appeal against their convictions of the offence of manslaughter;
The Attorney-General (“AG”) applied for leave to refer the sentences arguing that all three were unduly lenient; and
All three defendants sought leave to appeal their respective sentences.
The criminal records disclosure regime provides information through Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates to employers about an individual’s criminal record. That information is then used by employers when considering the suitability of applicants for eligible roles or work.
The Order removes the requirement for automatic disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings and removes the ‘multiple conviction’ rule, which required the automatic disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction, regardless of the nature of their offence or sentence.
On 29/10/2020, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against an aggravated burglary conviction brought by a teenage victim of human trafficking.
The applicant’s personal circumstances, including as a victim of trafficking, were properly reflected by way of mitigation of sentence. But his culpability and criminality were not extinguished or so diminished as to lead to the conclusion that he would or might not have been prosecuted.
On 21/10/2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Home Office’s removal window policy (‘the Policy’) was unlawful. The Policy incorporated an unacceptable risk of interference with the right of access to court by exposing a category of irregular migrants — including those who have claims in respect of their right to life and/or freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment — to the risk of removal without any proper opportunity to challenge a relevant decision in a court or tribunal.
Manning, R. v (Rev 1)  EWCA Crim 592 (30 April 2020) — judgment here
On 30 April 2019, giving the lead judgment in the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice considered that the impact of a custodial sentence is likely to be heavier during the coronavirus pandemic than it would otherwise be, and that this was a factor that judges and magistrates can and should keep in mind when sentencing.
Notably, the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court’s view that the scheme does result in landlords discriminating against tenants without British passports on the basis of their actual or perceived nationality. However, the Court held that this discrimination was justified.
headline-grabbing finding on 3rd January
2020 that “ethical veganism is a philosophical belief which qualifies as a
protected belief within the meaning of section 10 of The Equality Act 2010”, Norwich Employment
Tribunal Judge Postle has now provided his full determination.
The judgment was handed down following a preliminary hearing in a matter between the Claimant, Mr Jordi Casamitjana Costa, and his former employer, The League Against Cruel Sports. The facts of the case are set out in more detail in an earlier article from earlier this month.
In short, the Claimant is pursing complaints, inter alia, of indirect discrimination, direct discrimination or harassment and victimisation by reference to his belief in “ethical veganism”. “Ethical veganism”, according to the Vegan Society,it is a philosophy and way of life which
seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports (judgment pending)
In what multiple commentators have hailed as a landmark legal case, Norwich Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant’s “ethical veganism” is a philosophical belief and therefore a protected characteristic for the purposes of section 10 of the Equality Act 2010 (“s.10”) following a preliminary hearing on 2nd and 3rd January 2020.
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