Divisional Court quashes CPS refusal to prosecute

The Divisional Court has ruled today that the CPS’s decision not to prosecute our client’s former employer who exploited her by forcing her to work excessive hours for very little pay, was unlawful.

Our client was a domestic worker who had come the UK with her employers on the promise of domestic work for £1000 per month for a 40 hour week. Instead, the Claimant was required to work over 16 hours per day (for 41 pence per hour at most) with no rest days, under a visa which tied the legality of her stay in the United Kingdom to her employment. Our client’s passport was taken from her, and her movement was restricted in that she was locked in the employer’s home while they were out. After 3 months of such exploitation our client escaped, and sought help. She was referred into the National Referral Mechanism by the leading specialist domestic worker charity, Kalayaan. The Home Office then identified her as a victim of trafficking on the basis of domestic servitude.

The police initially refused to investigate her complaint of trafficking claiming that the suspect had diplomatic immunity, but after we helped our client challenge that decision, the case was referred to the CPS who from 2018 repeatedly refused to prosecute our client’s former employers. This is the third time that our client has had to issue proceedings against the CPS for its refusals to prosecute and on each occasion she has been successful.

Permission to apply for judicial review was granted on 4 October 2021, and the full hearing took place on 22 and 23 February 2022 before a Divisional Court comprising of Lord Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Dove, who gave the lead judgment. He found that the CPS’ conclusions were not reasonably open to them on the evidence and that ‘this is one of the very limited number of cases where there is a clear-cut basis for concluding the defendant erred in law.’

Partner, Zubier Yazdani who has represented our client since 2014 said; “It is concerning that the CPS would spend so much time and effort refusing to effectively investigate and prosecute the offences committed against our client.  Our client suffered appalling treatment from her former employers and has then been forced to fight every step of the way to try to get the authorities in the UK to recognise the wrongs she suffered. We hope this decision will force the CPS to look again at the way they treat the prosecution of offences relating to domestic servitude.”

Our client was represented by Zubier Yazdani and Ralitsa Peykova, instructing barristers Ben Douglas-Jones QC of 5 Paper Buildings, Chris Buttler QC and Katy Sheridan of Matrix Chambers.

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