Tag Archives: public interest

Why hasn’t Michael Gove been arrested?

During the Conservative leadership campaign, a question on many people’s lips will have been ‘Why hasn’t the former Justice Secretary been arrested?’  This follows his admissions to using cocaine on several occasions earlier in his career.


So, could he face the legal consequences of this?

Cocaine is a Class A drug.  This is the most serious category.  Drug offences are governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  Whilst buying a controlled drug in this scenario is not an offence, possession is. It carries up to seven years in prison.

Is Michael Gove’s confession enough?


The Prosecution will usually have to prove that a substance is in fact a controlled drug.  The most convenient way to do that is through a forensic report which analyses the substance.

In this case, though, the drugs are long gone and can’t be analysed. The prosecution would have to rely on his public confession.

A confession was relied on in R v Chatwood [1980] 1 All ER 467 where the Court of Appeal said that a confession could amount to evidence that, on the face of it, the defendant had been in possession where he was expressing an informed opinion.

Whether Michael Gove’s opinion could be described as ‘informed’ would be the key question.  This is likely to depend on how often he used the drug.

His confession could be used as evidence, however, if he were to be charged with attempted possession under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.

The prosecution could accept that Gove did not actually possess cocaine but allege instead that he had tried to possess it. The maximum sentence is the same.

Has it been too long to charge Gove with a drugs offence?


There is no general ‘Statute of Limitations’ in England and Wales.

Offences only triable in the Magistrates’ Court usually have a limit of six months, but possession of a drug is not one of those.  You can read more about the law here.

He could, theoretically, still be charged.

Will Michael Gove be prosecuted?

The Crown Prosecution Service would make a decision as to whether a prosecution should proceed.

To do this, they apply the Full Code Test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This is the same for every offence.

The Full Code Test has two stages which need to be met. These are the

  • evidential stage, and the
  • public interest stage.

In short, there needs to be enough evidence for a realistic chance of conviction.  It must then be in the public interest to bring a case. If a case fails either test, it will not be prosecuted.


The importance of his admissions

The confession is potentially enough evidence for a case to be brought. A Crown Prosecutor would have to be satisfied that it, and any other evidence, is admissible and leads to a realistic prospect of conviction.

Any evidence from Owen Bennett, the City AM political journalist who outed Gove’s cocaine use in his unauthorised biography of the Environment Secretary, or Gove’s political advisors to whom he confessed would need to be carefully considered, and a prosecutor may have grave doubts as to its admissibility.

In the event there was enough evidence, the case would also have to pass the public interest stage. A case will usually pass this stage unless there are factors against the prosecution that outweigh those in favour.

This stage takes into account a lot of factors, including the seriousness of the offence, the circumstances, any harm caused, impact on any victims, and whether a prosecution is proportionate.

The likely penalty would be a small fine or community punishment at most.  After all this time it may be that a discharge would be deemed appropriate.

As a result, although Gove could be prosecuted, it is unlikely that he will be in all of the circumstances. Reputationally and politically, this admission could exact a great cost, but it is unlikely to end up in court.

Contact a specialist criminal lawyer

This case illustrates the effect that a careless admission could have on a person’s character and career.  Of course, such admissions will have a far more serious impact if made to the police.

As a result, you should always take our advice prior to any police interview, whether as a volunteer or under arrest.

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

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  There are circumstances, for example, where admissions made might not be admissable in court proceedings.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all offences.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.




Representations made to CPS in sex dolls case

Freddie Sail trainee solicitor
Trainee solicitor and Crown Court litigator Freddie Sail

Crown Court Litigator and trainee solicitor Freddie Sail recently prepared a case for trial at Nottingham Crown Court for a client who faced two allegations of importing what were said to be child-like sex dolls into the UK.

The case shows that often written advocacy can be as important as what is said in court.

A gap in the law on child-like sex dolls?

There is an apparent gap in the law in relation to such items.  For example, it is not illegal to simply possess a child-like sex doll.  As a result, the prosecution choose to bring proceedings under section 50(3) Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 where the item has been brought into the country.

This states, simply, that it is an offence for a person to import any goods contrary to any prohibition with the intention to evade that prohibition.

The prohibition that catches child-like sex dolls is under section 42  Customs Consolidation Act 1876 which states:

“The goods enumerated and described in the following table of prohibitions and restrictions inwards are hereby prohibited to be imported or brought into the United Kingdom.”

The ‘table of prohibition’ includes:

“Indecent or obscene prints, paintings, photographs, books, cards, lithographic or other engravings, or any other indecent or obscene articles.”

You can read more about this aspect of the law here.

New prosecution guidance on child-like sex dolls

sex dollsEarlier this year, new guidance was issued about the evidence that would be needed to bring a successful prosecution and broader public interest consideration.  You can read more about this here.

Freddie saw that the guidance had been issued.  He took the opportunity to review his client’s case.  This was to see whether steps should be taken to ask the prosecution to look again at whether his client should be prosecuted.

His client denied from the outset the two crucial elements of the offence.  Fundamentally, he denied that the doll was representative of a child.  He had bought it as depicting an adult.  Secondly, he was unaware of any prohibition relating to the importation of child-like sex dolls in any event.

Written representations to the CPS

Having looked at the case together with the guidance Freddie wrote a persuasive letter to the Crown Prosecution Service, asking a lawyer to review the evidence.

In brief, he stressed the following factors:

  • the prosecution was not in line with the new guidance
  • ‘expert’ evidence in this case should not be relied upon
  • there were sufficient features of the doll to mean that it was not ‘unquestionably’ a portrayal of a child
  • a lack of evidence suggesting our client was aware of any prohibition
  • the advertising of the items as ‘adult sexy dolls’

This communication with the prosecution was referred to by Freddie on the trial readiness form.

sex doll

No evidence offered following the review

Freddie’s representation were successful.  The prosecution accepted that in the light of the new guidance the case should not be pursued to trial.  The matter was listed quickly and no evidence was offered.

Freddie’s client was overjoyed when the not guilty verdicts were announced.

Contact a criminal law specialist

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offending arising out of the importation of a child-like sex doll or any other item make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.  The courts are always likely to take such offences seriously upon conviction.

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

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.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.

assisting an offender
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.



Magistrates’ Court representation secures discontinuance

Derby crime solicitor Stacey Mighty provided advice and magistrates court representationrepresentation to a client charged with an allegation of criminal damage.  She had already provided free and independent legal advice to her client in police interview.  Stacey then gave her client the continuity of representation that he wanted by going on to provide Magistrates’ Court representation.


Denied allegation of criminal damage

Our client faced allegations that he had had damaged his girlfriend’s property.  You can read more about the law on criminal damage here.  He was denying the allegation.  Further, our client believed that his girlfriend was no longer interested in cooperating with the prosecution.

In this case, the complainant in the case had told the police that she did not want to pursue the allegation.  As a result the prosecutor at court already knew that was the case.  Despite this a decision had been made that the prosecution should continue.

Prosecution in the public interest?

Stacey had made representations prior to the case being heard that the prosecution should simply drop the case. It was a minor allegation and it could not be in the public interest to proceed when the witness was no longer interested.

Other factors suggested that the prosecution was not necessary:

  • there was no history of domestic incidents
  • a defence had been put forward in interview
  • our client’s limited convictions
  • there would be a need to force the witness to attend court

Magistrates’ Court representation by solicitor will make a difference

Stacey’s client pleaded not guilty due to the position adopted by the prosecution.  He was ready to contest the case at trial.  The case was, however, listed before a District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court.

magistrates court representationStacey took the opportunity to raise the same issues again but with the Judge.  He shared Stacey’s concerns as to whether the case should proceed.

Instead of listing the case for trial the District Judge gave the prosecution two weeks to fully review the decision to proceed.  As a result of Stacey’s representation at court the prosecution decided to discontinue the charge.  This decision ultimately meant that the resources of the prosecution and the court could be diverted to other cases.

Stacey’s client avoid the risk of being convicted after trial before Magistrates.

Contact Derby crime solicitor Stacey Mighty

magistrates' court representation Derby
Derby criminal solicitor Stacey Mighty

The benefit of instructing specialist crime solicitors VHS Fletchers solicitors is that we will aim to provide you with continuity of representation at the police station and Magistrates’ Court.

This means that the solicitor with knowledge of your case will deal with you throughout proceedings where possible.  This case demonstrates the benefits of such an approach.

Our independent legal advice in the police station is always free of charge to you.  You can read some of the benefits of our advice in the police station here.

Magistrates court representation will often be available under the criminal legal aid scheme.  You can read more about that here.

Whether you need free legal advice in the police station or Magistrates’ Court representation please call Stacey to discuss your case.  She can be contacted on 01332 546818.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.



Prosecution not in public interest argues Ilkeston legal aid solicitor

Ilkeston legal aid solicitor Chris Evans successfully persuaded the prosecution that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute his client for an allegation of common assault.

Was the prosecution in the public interest?

In order to bring a prosecution two tests must be satisfied.  The first is the evidential test.  The second is the public interest test.

In Chris’s case, the evidential test was met.  His client was at a party and following an argument she had assaulted her boyfriend.  The assault was captured by police bodycam footage.  She had also been interviewed without the benefit of free legal representation in the police station.

Admissions to the assault had been made in that interview, although she had gone on to say that her boyfriend had tried to prevent her leaving the party

Prosecution persuaded to withdraw the charge

Despite these admissions, Chris believed it was worth speaking with the prosecution about whether his client should be prosecuted.  He argued that the following points were relevant to the public interest:

  • there was an element of provocation.  Her boyfriend had engaged in a sex act with the hostess of the party in a hot tub.
  • this led to the altercation which was captured on the bodycam footage
  • none of the witnesses in the case, including the boyfriend, wanted to take matters further
  • her admissions were qualified as she had said that her boyfriend was unlawfully preventing her from leaving the party
  • she was young, of good character, and a conviction or caution would have harmed her career prospects.

Contact an Ilkeston legal aid solicitor

VHS Fletchers is the only firm offering criminal legal aid in Ilkeston.  We provide free advice and representation under the legal aid scheme at both Derby St Mary’s Wharf and the Nottingham Bridewell police stations.  Our lawyers also provide representation across the East Midlands and nationwide.

Should you face proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court we will provide you with full advice about how best to fund your case.  This will include assistance in completing a legal aid application where appropriate.

prosection not in public interest says ilkeston legal aid solicitorYou will not have to travel out of Ilkeston to give instructions to our local solicitors which we believe will be more convenient to you.

If you wish to instruct Chris Evans or one of our other lawyers at our Ilkeston office then please telephone 0115 9441233 or use the form below.