Narita Bahra and Tom Day Secure Acquittals in a Royal Mail Private Prosecution of a Multi Million Pound Fraud
Narita Bahra and Tom Day were instructed to defend an employee of Royal Mail Revenue Protection Department who was alleged to have assisted a Company to defraud the Royal Mail of approximately £33 million pounds of revenue fraud and of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The prosecution relied in the main upon a witness, the owner and controlling mind of the Company which had perpetrated the fraud, who gave Queen’s Evidence to seek to secure convictions against four Royal Mail employees.
Private prosecutions are an extremely valuable power for Royal Mail, who have confirmed their intention to crack down and pursue offenders via Private prosecutions instead of traditional reliance on the Crown Prosecution Service.
Private prosecutions can be commenced by any private individual, or entity who/which is not acting on behalf of the police or other prosecuting authority.
The right to bring private prosecutions is preserved by section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act (POA) 1985. There are, however, some limitations:
- the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has power under section 6(2) POA 1985 to take over private prosecutions;
- in some cases, the private prosecutor must seek the consent of the Attorney General or of the DPP before the commencement of proceedings.
Defending in a private prosecution requires knowledge, at the outset, of what features of a private prosecution a client may be able to challenge,
- Sufficiency of evidence
- Public Interest
- Motives of the Private Prosecutor
- Conduct of the Private Prosecutor
- Disclosure Process
It is only if the prosecuting legal team has acted with the required professionalism and independence that the private prosecution proceeds to trial.
The Crown sought to rely on a combination of CCTV footage, cell site, digital media and telephone evidence to secure a conviction against the client.
At trial, at the close of the prosecution case, Narita and Tom succeeded in persuading the Prosecution and the Judge that there was no case to answer against their client on the charges faced; not guilty verdicts were therefore received from the Jury.
The trial for the co-defendants continues.