Crown drops prosecution of child victim of trafficking after judicial review threat

Anthony Vaughan and Tayyiba Bajwa, both of the Doughty Street Administrative and Public law team, act for H, instructed by Zubier Yadzani, Partner at Deighton Peirce Glynn, who was assisted by Ralitsa Peykova.

The Crown has offered no evidence against a confirmed victim of human trafficking (“H”), who was a minor at the time of his arrest, following pre-action correspondence which argued that prosecuting him would violate Article 4 ECHR. 

H had been brought into the UK to work in fast food outlets and to perform domestic work for little or no pay; and was subject to physical abuse at the hands of those he worked for.  H was arrested with two others in 2019 and charged with conspiracy to acquire, use or possess criminal property after he was found in a car containing £300,000 in cash.  

The Single Competent Authority later accepted that H was a victim of human trafficking on the balance of probabilities.

The CPS recently reviewed the case in the light of the SCA’s decision but maintained their intention to prosecute H, in reliance on the recent Court of Appeal decision in R v Brecani [2021] EWCA Crim 731.  The CPS had also refused to disclose details of what steps had been taken by the police to investigate whether H was a victim of trafficking.

However, the CPS were last week served with pre-action correspondence which argued that:

  • Prosecuting H would be in breach of the CPS’s human trafficking and modern slavery policy;

  • The police had failed to conduct a lawful investigation into whether H was a victim of trafficking;

  • H could not in the circumstances have a fair trial; and continuing with the prosecution would violate Article 4 ECHR and the principles set out in VCL & AN v United Kingdom (2021) 73 EHRR 9;

  • Reliance was also placed on medical evidence relating to H’s mental health difficulties and susceptibility to control by other adults;

  • Other evidence, including from the charity Hope for Justice, was also provided.

Following the pre-action letter, and on the eve of the trial, the CPS confirmed that they would offer no evidence against H.  This decision was confirmed yesterday at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court and a not guilty verdict was entered.

In related proceedings brought by H, the High Court had on 9 November 2021 ordered the Home Office to decide whether H should be granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK while his asylum claim remained outstanding.  Work continues in relation to the ongoing police investigation into H’s experience as a victim of trafficking in the UK.