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Phone tap evidence remains inadmissible in courts in England & Wales

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Seema Parikh of MPR Solicitors writes:

The Home Secretary announced today that the use of phone tap evidence in courts in England and Wales was not “legally viable”. This was after the government had commissioned a review on the possibility of using intercept evidence in court. The review held a series of mock trials which showed that this type of evidence was simply incompatible with the rules of disclosure of evidence to the defence.

Under current legislation in England & Wales, information obtained from phone taps or intercepted emails cannot be used in evidence in a court of law. However, material obtained from this type of source can be used for intelligence purposes and is widely used by law enforcements agencies in the UK to investigate and combat crime. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) have been using intelligence led methods such as wiretaps to make arrests in the UK. MPR Solicitors were instructed  to represent a Defendant facing serious money laundering charges where SOCA had used intercept evidence gained from law enforcement agencies in Spain and had attempted to use wiretap evidence obtained from the UK to prosecute the case. As a result of legal argument, we were able to successfully argue against both sources of the wiretap evidence which resulted in most of the evidence against our client being excluded. Moreover, we were able to use the disclosed unused wiretap material which had been obtained from Spanish law enforcement agencies to assist our client’s defence case.

We have the experience and the expertise to defend serious crime and cases being prosecuted on behalf of SOCA. If you need further information or details about how we may be able to assist you or about any of the issues raised in this ebrief news item, please contact us now.

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Seema Parikh is a Partner and  head of Serious Crime and Regulatory Departments at MPR Solicitors LLP.