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9 November 2007:

My client Ian Strachan was arrested at the Hilton Hotel on the 11th September 2007 at 17.40pm and remanded in custody. The allegation he faces of blackmail contrary to S.21 of The Theft Act 1968 is without doubt a bailable offence. He has been refused bail on the 13th September 2007 by the City of Westminster Magistrates Court and again at the Central Criminal Court on the 2nd November 2007 by Mr Justice Peter Gross the specially designated judge to hear the case.

Whilst I do not agree with the outcome of the bail application I do wholeheartedly agree it was a fair application. In Italy and most EU Countries my client would never see the courtyard of any penal institute but England is special in the way it elects to spend the taxpayers money absurdly.

This is what is known as a 'special case' and thus the allocation of a special judge, a special prosecutor and special just about everything other than the kitchen sink. Being special you would think that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) would at least behave in a proper manner and comply with the regulations set down by Statute and Legislation. This case was sent to the Crown Court under S.51 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 allowing the Prosecution to by pass what were effectively judicial filter elements permitting an accused from wrongly being sent to trial. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the denial of primary justice the said Act is a penal statute and as such should be accurately construed and if in doubt the benefit to the accused. There is much case law on this issue and I won't bore you with the relevant cases.

When Parliament passed the said Crime and Disorder Act 1998 allowing the Prosecution to by-pass what were 'committal' proceedings a proper way of testing the strength of the Prosecution Case and avoid wasting the public purse they imposed upon the Crown Prosecution Service time limits for certain stages. One of those is to ensure that the defendant knows what he/she is facing as soon as possible. The maximum time limit for Posecution papers to be given to the Defence is 50 days from arrest if in custody and 70 days if on bail. It follows that the liberty of the person is of prime importance. In the case of Strachan, as an example the Case Summary was delivered to the Defence on the 1st November 2007 yet it was written on the 13th September. Can that be excused? Is it possible that Ian Strachan or anyone for that matter must have his rights violated without sanction when the CPS do not comply with the time limits imposed by Act of Parliament?

It may surprise you in the UK to know that on researching 1000 sample cases over the past 6 months 788 cases namely 78% of cases the CPS have NOT, yes, NOT complied with the time periods set down by Parliament in delivering to the Defence the 'Prosecution Papers' as required by the Act! With a very weak judiciary and even weaker elements within the Defence Lawyers all of whom know full well that if applications for bail are made they are refused because the Judge will always invariable say "well the CPS are very busy and they are trying their best bla bla bla bla." Well, its not good enough. When Parliament surrendered certain rights to a committal in favour of S.51 Transfers to the Crwn Court it imposed upon Prosecutors specific time limits. 78% of the time it seems those limits are violated and rights breached. Parliament has elected NOT to increase the time limits. That means that if the CPS are unable to get 'their act together' then as in all other countries the liberty of the person is of prime importance and if an accused is in custody he/she must be released. I intend rasing this matter with the Lord Chief Justice in order that hopefully a new parctise direction is delivered to the Judiciary as to how they are exected to behave when the Prosecution breach, as they do in 78% of the cases, time limits for showing the Defence what their case actually is! We are talking about in this case IAN STRACHAN sitting in Belmarsh Prison without actually knowing what it is he is facing. Leaving aside its contrary to Art. 6 of the Human Rights Act but in my view there should be COMMON SENSE ACT. How in heaven can you allow anyone in prison waiting for a trial or a hearing not knowing AFTER 50 DAYS what it is he/she is facing???

Its a good job this is a special case!
I will be writing to the Lord Chief Justice today on this specific issue and raising the question of bal again for Mr Strachan who sits in Belmarsh Prison whilst the defence have not a single piece of paper, not a single witness tatement, not a single exhibit.
And the reason???? The CPS Prosecutor is abroad!!!!!!!

Giovanni Di Stefano


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