Tag Archives: investigation

Prosecutions following Gosport Hospital enquiry?

A recent news story about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital highlighted the importance of pharmacists and their regulated staff seeking independent legal advise if being interviewed by the police.

The Gosport War Memorial Hospital Inquiry

Kent and Essex Police have announced that they are re-opening their investigation into 465 deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

The inquiry findings are being considered by the CPS and they will decide whether or not the police should instigate any investigation.

This decision following the inquiry highlights the very difficult position that pharmacists can find themselves in. The report reminds us of the case that involved Dr Harold Shipman which led to subsequent proceedings before the Royal Pharmaceutical Society by pharmacist Ghislaine Brant.

Questions raised about pharmacists’ actions

gosport war memorial hospitalThe media have been quick to raise questions as to the actions of the pharmacy staff at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital.  They have queried the role that they may have played in the dispensing and supply of the high level of painkillers apparently featuring in this case. The suggestion has been made that the pharmacists employed at the time showed little regard for the supply of controlled drugs to patients.

Whilst this is clearly a tragic situation, it should not be forgotten that pharmacists are professional people undertaking extremely important work on behalf of the community. They respond to prescriptions received from doctors and make judgements prior to their decision to dispense and supply medications based on the limited information before them.

Some years down the line it may be difficult to see what, if any, documentary evidence exists to help the pharmacist explain their actions at the time. This obviously makes matters more difficult for a pharmacist to defend.

In such circumstances legal advice will make a significant difference to the outcome of a case.

Free and Independent legal advice is available for pharmacists

Cases alleging criminal liability against pharmacists or their staff are always likely to be complex and require sensitivity as there will often have been a death.

Our specialist lawyers can advise you on the evidence in the case, whether you have a defence, and help you put that defence forward.  We will be able to advise you on the prospects of success and navigating a successful path through what can be a long and stressful investigation and court process. We will also be mindful of the potential regulatory impact of any adverse finding in your case.  We are able to provide you with advice in relation to such proceedings.

As a result, if you are a pharmacist and are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you on a voluntary basis about any criminal offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early legal advice in any case can be found here.

gosport war memorial hospital
Crime and Regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

Please contact our regulatory defence expert Martin Hadley on 0115 9599550 or by email here.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:



Information Commissioner Investigation into ‘fly tipping’

Nottingham crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley represented a professional client,  a  pharmacist, who was being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Following investigation he was able to secured a positive outcome for this client.

Information Commissioner Received Complaint

The ICO had received a complaint that Martin’s client had been “flying tipping” waste in the locality of one of their pharmacy branches.

A member of the public discovered an abandoned suitcase in the street. Correspondence was found in the case and it was clear that the paperwork was attributable to the community pharmacy operated by Martin’s client. information commissioner investigationAlso found in the bag were documents with the pharmacy stamp upon them which identified the names and addresses of pharmacy patients. On the face of it this appeared to be  a clear breach of patient confidentiality.

The Information Commissioner was investigating a breach of the seventh principle of data protection, namely the requirement to take appropriate technical and organisational measures to avoid the unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data.

Clear and Robust System

Martin took the client’s full instructions upon the points this evidence supplied by the Information Commissioner. It was apparent that our client had clear and robust systems in place for the disposal of both confidential and non-confidential waste. These processes allowed them to quickly understand how the problem had arisen.

Individuals had been climbing over the wall of their premises and breaking into the waste bins. No doubt these people were hoping to find Controlled Drugs.

Sanctions Available to ICO

The Commission could have taken various steps including:

  • Providing advice to the clients.
  • Require the client to produce improvement plans.
  • Give undertakings to improve compliance.
  • Serve enforcement notices.
  • issue monetary penalties of up to £500,000.

Positive Client Outcome

The instructions given and our advice meant that we were able to reply to the ICO denying the breach and providing a bundle of documents to persuade the Information Commissioner that no action should be taken.

Our client’s full responses led to the ICO swiftly reaching the conclusion that no further action was necessary.

Contact regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley

information commisioner investigation
Nottingham crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley

If you face investigation by the Information Commissioner’s office, local authority or similar then please contact Martin Hadley straight away on 0115 9599550 or use the form below.

You will no doubt benefit from his clear analysis of your problem, practical advice and robust approach to your problem.


Released under Investigation by the police – an explainer

released under investigationIf you have found this article through an internet search then it is likely that you are one of many thousands of people who have been interviewed by the police under caution and then released under investigation.

It may be that you are having to search for an explanation because several weeks, or months, or even a year have passed and you have not heard anything from the police.  You might not know or be confused about what will happen now that you have been released under investigation.

What does released under investigation mean?

If this has happened to you then it should mean that any police investigation into your alleged behaviour is still ongoing.  The police should intend to notify you of the decision as to whether or not you will be prosecuted at some point in the future.

Often the effect of being released under investigation is that suspects will find that their lives are put on hold in many ways.  It might be that the original allegation is a serious one so it is hard to get on with your life as normal.  Your studies or career might be suffering while you are released under investigation due to a lack of knowledge of what is happening.

You might not know when property such as telephones or computers are to be returned.  Potential witnesses might be waiting to see if they will be spoken to by the police.

Until you hear from the police it will be hard to put the matter to the back of your mind and impossible to forget about it, even where you know that you were not in the wrong.

Why am I not given a fixed date?

Previously suspects in a criminal investigation were likely to be released on bail to return to the police station so that a decision on charge or further interviews could take place.

released under investigationAdverse publicity of cases where suspects were on bail for what could be years meant that the system was reviewed.  The system created inconvenience where people would have to return to the police station many times only to find nothing was to happen and their bail was extended.

Police bail is now only used in a limited number of cases.  The ability to keep suspects on police bail for long periods is now overseen by the courts.

Unfortunately, the change to the law on police bail has meant that it has been replaced with an equally unsatisfactory system where the police don’t even provide the milestones that bail dates would give to permit a review of the investigation.

Will the police keep you informed of developments?

For those who have been released under investigation it is unlikely to be enough to hope that the police are carrying out a thorough and effective investigation into the allegations

It is often impossible to tell whether any delay is due to the investigation or because other cases have been prioritised by the officer in your case.

Instruct a criminal law solicitor to represent your interests

released under investigationEven if you were interviewed without a solicitor before you were released under investigation it is still not to late to contact us for our help.

We will keep in regular contact with the police to make sure that they are continuing to investigate your case.  We will try and help you with a timetable for when certain steps will be taken and when the investigation is likely to conclude.

This may be of particular importance where the police are having items subject to forensic testing or having computers or mobile phones analysed.  This can take a long time, particularly in complex or serious cases.

We can help negotiate the return of property to you if it is no longer relevant to the investigation.

Having us instructed at that stage will mean that where further interviews under caution are to take place we will be able to arrange them at a time convenient to you and your solicitor.

Can I change solicitors once I’ve been interviewed?

released under investigationIf you had the duty solicitor in your first interview then VHS Fletchers will be able to represent you in any subsequent interview under caution and that advice will remain free of charge to you under the legal aid scheme.

If, however, you had selected your own solicitor but now wish to change to VHS Fletchers then you may have to pay privately.  Contact us and we will advise you as to that aspect of the case.

What should I do now?

With any criminal investigation it is always important to instruct a criminal solicitor from the outset.  Our advice will be free of charge to you and we are entirely independent from the police.

The advantages of seeking legal advice in a police interview under caution can be found here.

Our police station solicitors and accredited representatives are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from our offices across the East Midlands to provide you with advice when you most need it.

The contact details for your nearest office can be found here.

If you are arrested and do not have the time to contact us before you are taken to the police station ask the custody staff to phone VHS Fletchers.

released under investigation
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

You can also contact us by using the form below:


Mobile phone data and prosecutions

We are all aware that we live in a surveillance society. CCTV cameras can record our movements around large towns and cities, and many homes now have them installed for protection.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras take a snapshot of car number plates and can not only monitor average speed for road traffic enforcement purposes, but also track the movement of a vehicle over hundreds of miles in most instances.

mobile phone dataFinally, most people are aware that the location where a mobile telephone call was made can be pinpointed to within a few hundred metres.

But who knew that an App, installed on all Apple phones, and similar Apps on Android devices, could hold the key to a murder case?  One defendant in Germany, Hussein Khavari, found this out to his cost when he faced trial for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old student.

While investigators were able to piece together part of the defendant’s movements, his location at critical times was unknown.  It was at this point investigators turned their attention to his phone which had been seized as evidence upon arrest.

Police examination of mobile phone data

The defendant had refused to provide the police with the PIN to unlock the phone.  Despite this, specialists were able to hack into the phone and examine the mobile phone data.

mobile phone dataThe data from the Health App was examined.  It could be seen that at certain moments the data demonstrated a significant increase in physical activity.  This mobile phone data correlated with important parts of the prosecution case within the timeline, namely dragging a body down a river embankment and then climbing back up.

This evidence was used to dispute the defendant’s account of the killing which he stated was by accident, had happened at a different location, and was not premeditated.

The use of such seemingly private mobile phone data is proving controversial.  This is particularly true where there is a friction between the right to privacy and the legitimate investigation of crimes.

Difficulties for investigators

Strong encryption technology is also reported to be making life very difficult for investigators.  Home Secretaries has spoken many times of the need for new legislation.

This story also reminds us that encryption may only as good as the password behind it.  A 4-digit code to protect a phone or other device can be cracked within minutes by a data specialist.  A ten-digit random code would probably only be cracked after many years of trying, if at all.

In the UK police can, in some circumstances, request that a suspect hand over their PIN and passwords.  Failure to do so can lead to prosecution for a criminal offence under section 53 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 200.  This offence carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

mobile phone data

Contact a criminal law specialist

The issue of privacy and its place in criminal justice is a new and evolving topic, as is the requirement to hand over PINs and passwords.

Before choosing to reveal your data secrets or making a decison to refuse it will be critical that you seek specialist independent advice as soon as possible,

You are likely to be asked to make this decision in police interview.  Our advice will be free of charge to you in those circumstances so make sure you take advantage of it.

You can find your nearest office here.

mobile phone data

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Money laundering and Bitcoin

Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are never far from the news.  This is most recently because the value of Bitcoin rose considerably in the latter part of 2017, the market then crashing.  It is a currency that permits criminal activity for those involved in money laundering.

It is an odd ‘currency’, as it is not backed by any government, and certainly not by an underlying gold stock.  It is, in fact, nothing more than a virtual object that has a value dictated solely by supply and demand – indeed that is one of the few characteristics that it shares with conventional currency.

Currency attractive for money laundering

So, why the attraction? Why would a person wish to convert £10,000 into one bitcoin, or a lesser amount for a share of one?

One of the main attractions of bitcoin is that it exists across borders, money launderingoutside of traditional banking controls and with a secure cloak of anonymity.  Those three magic ingredients make this type of currency attractive to those seeking to launder the proceeds of crime.

Nobody is interested in the identity of the trader.  The proceeds can be cashed in almost anywhere in the world.  There are even cash machines in some countries including England.  Blockchain encryption has rendered law enforcement impotent in this brave new world of international finance.

This explains the rise in value.  In just one year it rose to thirteen times its value at the end of 2016.

But, the larger the sums that need to be laundered, the more complex and risky it is to make those initial transactions.  That is where the middle-man comes in.  He or she will be a person either knowingly or unwittingly agreeing to purchase bitcoin, or, more commonly, transfer monies on behalf of a money launderer.  They will take a fee for his or her trouble along the way.

Sometimes the amount could be as little as a few hundred pounds but extrapolated this sum becomes significant. Such individuals are known as ‘money mules’.

Government regulation to fight money laundering

The government is keen to regulate these new currencies, and in a recent statement to parliament the treasury minister said:

“The UK Government is currently negotiating amendments to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive that will bring virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation, which will result in these firms’ activities being overseen by national competent authorities for these areas. The Government supports the intention behind these amendments. We expect these negotiations to conclude at EU level in late 2017/early 2018.”

Until these protections are in place, people will be able to assist in money laundering enterprises, with little that the authorities can do to stop it.

Up to fourteen years for money laundering offences

money launderingIt perhaps sounds the stuff of fiction, but in the first nine months of 2017, there were over 8652 ‘money mule’ cases identified by Cifas, the fraud prevention service. This criminality represents just the tip of a money laundering iceberg.

The penalty if caught is potentially significant, with sentences of imprisonment as long as 14 years available to a court.  If someone close to you seems to have come into money, you may want to start asking questions, before it is too late.

More information can be found on this government website.


Contact us for specialist legal advice

money laundering
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

When a person becomes unwittingly involved in money laundering it is important to step back from the position as seen with the benefit of hindsight and examine what truly went on. A careful forensic analysis of the circumstances will reveal any defences available to someone suspected of money laundering crimes. Making a silly mistake is not yet a crime.

If you need advice about money laundering or any other criminal law matter then please contact your nearest office.  We will be able to provide you with free and independent legal advice in any police interview, and advise you on the availability of legal aid should your case come to court.  Alternatively, you can get in touch by using the contact form below.


General Pharmaceutical Council Investigation

Nottingham based crime and regulatory lawyer Martin Hadley recently represented a pharmacy technician who was before the Investigating Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council.

General Pharmaceutical Council

At the client’s request we had taken over his case from another firm of solicitors who had attempted to deal with his case to conclusion during the investigation stage but had failed to do so.  As a result his case had moved on to the formal disciplinary process before the Committee.  In the referral, a recommendation had been made that Martin’s client receive a warning.

Martin’s client faced allegations that:

• He had received a formal police caution for a serious criminal offence; and,
• His fitness to practise was impaired by reason of the caution.

Martin requested a copy of the file from the General Pharmaceutical Council and reviewed the papers generated in the investigation stage by the former solicitors.

Taking advantage of current technology, Martin undertook a lengthy video conference with the client to seek his full instructions. During that meeting Martin was able to give full advice on the factual basis of the concessions to be made and gain full details of the mitigating circumstances and advise upon potential outcomes.

On the basis of this meeting and consideration of the papers Martin was able to draft a persuasive letter of representations.  The client was then able to  approve the letter.  It was submitted in good time for the hearing.

As a result of Martin’s representations the the Committee reached the conclusion  “take no further action” having taken into account the nature of the caution and the mitigation that could be offered.

Martin’s client was very happy with the result, particularly bearing in mind that the Council’s original recommendation.

Contact Us

General Pharmaceutical Council representationWe know that such referrals can have serious effect on a person working in this sector.  The Investigating Committee has the option of referring the case to the Fitness to Practice Committee.  It has additional powers of its own, including giving a recordable warning, advice, agreeing undertakes or recommending criminal prosecutions.

Neither the Investigation Stage nor the Investigating Committee stage can be taken lightly.  Decisions made early in a case can affect the entirety of proceedings.  As a result, it is extremely important to seek expert advice straight away.

If you are a pharmacist or pharmacy technician and face investigation then please contact Martin Hadley immediately on 0115 9599550 or email him here.  He will give you information on our competitive private fees and explain what helpful steps can be taken immediately on  your behalf.