CPS drops prosecution of victim of trafficking after judicial review threat

The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped the charges against our client, H, a confirmed victim of human trafficking who was a minor at the time of his arrest, following a pre-action letter sent by DPG which argued that prosecuting him would violate Article 4 ECHR.

H had been trafficked into the UK to perform domestic work for little or no pay and was subject to physical abuse at the hands of those he worked for.  While under the control of his traffickers, H was arrested with two others in 2019 and charged with conspiracy to acquire, use or possess criminal property after he was found in a car containing £300,000 in cash.

The Single Competent Authority made a conclusive grounds decision in January 2021, accepting that H is a victim of trafficking. Despite reviewing the SCA’s decision, the CPS maintained their decision to prosecute H in reliance on the recent Court of Appeal decision in R v Brecani [2021] EWCA Crim 731 (you can read the Judgment in this case here).

The CPS was served a pre-action letter which argued that:

  • Prosecuting H would be in breach of the CPS’s human trafficking and modern slavery policy;
  • The police had failed to conduct a lawful investigation into whether H was a victim of trafficking;
  • H could not in the circumstances have a fair trial; and continuing with the prosecution would violate Article 4 ECHR and the principles set out in VCL & AN v United Kingdom (2021) 73 EHRR 9;
  • Reliance was also placed on medical evidence relating to H’s mental health difficulties and susceptibility to control by other adults;
  • Other evidence, including from the charity Hope for Justice, was also provided.

Following the pre-action letter, and on the eve of the trial, the CPS confirmed that they would offer no evidence against H.  This decision was confirmed yesterday at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court and a not guilty verdict was entered.

Zubier Yazdani and Ralitsa Peykova of Deighton Pierce Glynn instructed Anthony Vaughan of Doughty Street.

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