Disclosure failings cause dramatic collapse of Fraud Trial


Adam Gersch and Sara Wyeth, of Chambers’ crime team were instructed by Gary Lesin-Davis at Morgan Rose for the defendant James Hamer who faced 23 counts of fraud and theft. After six weeks of evidence in the trial, the case collapsed when the defence ‘abuse of process’ application was allowed on the basis of non- and very late disclosure of vital evidence.

Adam Gersch cross-examined an intelligence office from the British Horseracing Authority (“the BHA”) and successfully demonstrated inconsistencies between the BHA account of events and that described by the police relating to other missing evidence only disclosed during the trial. Police relied heavily on the BHA and other witnesses and accepted much of the evidence provided without question. The defence team thereby exposed a flawed approach by the police and multiple serious failings relating to the lack of independence in the investigation.

Key witnesses cross-examined by Mr Gersch during the trial were faced with a variety of financial transactions that they were unable to explain and accepted that their witness statements were incorrect, untrue or that there was vital information that they had withheld from the police. After the officer in the case had given evidence, the prosecution discovered yet more material on a police laptop that supported the defence case on at least two of the counts.

Following defence submissions, the court accepted that the evidence relating to disclosure failings was such that prosecution assurances could no longer be relied upon, and the entire trial process was fatally flawed. His Honour Judge Cartwright directed that not guilty verdicts be entered in relation to three counts and that the remaining counts on the indictment be stayed as an abuse of the process of the court. He stated:

 “The public must have confidence in the trial process both in its fairness and its efficiency. Defendants should be able to have confidence in the integrity of the trial process. In this case the administration of justice has been undermined. Repeated assurances that the disclosure process had been adhered to were found to be seriously wanting.”

This case joins a worrying and growing series of cases which have collapsed due to disclosure failings, beginning with the Liam Allen rape case (conducted by Jerry Hayes of our Chambers) and more recently the ‘Red Diesel’ fraud case which collapsed on 29 April 2018 in very similar circumstances to the Hamer case. BBC news Liam Allen in similar circumstances and ‘Red Diesel’ fraud trial on 29 April 2018 in similar circumstances.

Related barristers: Adam Gersch, Sara Wyeth