Court of Appeal

High Court quashes CPS refusal to prosecute former diplomat for exploiting domestic worker

In a rare successful challenge to a Crown Prosecution Service’s (‘CPS’) decision, the High Court has decided that the CPS’s decision not to prosecute a former diplomat and his wife who exploited our client by forcing her to work excessive hours for very little pay was unlawful.

Our client was a domestic worker who had emigrated on the promise of domestic work with adequate pay and reasonable hours. Instead she was forced to work excessive hours for very little pay, and had little option but to do so. Eventually she escaped and sought help. She was referred into the National Referral Mechanism by the specialist domestic worker charity, Kalayaan, and the Home Office then identified her as a victim of trafficking.

The police initially refused to investigate, claiming that the perpetrator had diplomatic immunity, but after we helped our client challenge that decision, the case was referred to the CPS.

The CPS refused to prosecute as they did not consider that our client was exploited, and after pursing the Victims Right to Review process our client applied for judicial review of the CPS’s decision.

Permission to apply for judicial review was granted in April, and the full hearing took place on 1 July 2020 before a Divisional Court (comprising a Court of Appeal judge – Lord Justice Hickinbottom – and a High Court judge – Mr Justice Sweeney).

Our client, who can only be referred to as L, says:

“I am very pleased with the court decision. People in positions of power should not treat other people like I was treated, and people who are in the situation that I was in should know that you can do something about it, that help is out there, and – I hope – that the police and the CPS will now take these offences seriously.”

Her solicitor Zubier Yazdani says:

“This is a very welcome decision. Our client was treated appallingly. She was deceived into coming to the UK and forced to work excessive hours for pitifully little pay. That alone is enough to amount to ‘exploitation’. Our client hopes that the CPS will now take that on board and adopt a less restrictive approach to cases like this.”

Her barrister, Ben-Douglas-Jones QC says:

“Human trafficking and modern slavery are inherently insidious crimes. Identification of victims is key: it is important that lawyers are aware of exploitation indicators, however subtle, and of every permutation by which such offences may be committed.”

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

The judgment can be downloaded here.

The Guardian article can be found here.

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