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Late disclosure causes carbon copy case collapse

(Posted on 03/06/19)


The trial of eight defendants accused of fraudulent carbon credit and diamond sales collapsed last week after the credibility of the prosecution’s expert witness was called into question.

It emerged that Andrew Ager (pictured), called in more than 20 previous trials, had no academic qualifications, had read no books about carbon credits, had made assertions that were untrue or factually inaccurate in a meeting with the expert witness for the defence and had kept no records of the material he had provided to police or notes of his workings.

That evidence was only disclosed to the defence on Tuesday, shortly before the prosecution abandoned the case.

In closing the case, the judge said: "Andrew Ager is not an expert of suitable calibre. He had little or no understanding of the duties of an expert. He had received no training and attended no courses. He has no academic qualifications. His work has never been peer-reviewed."

The case centred on the sale of investment opportunities in carbon credits between November 2011 and February 2014. Carbon credits are permits that allow companies or countries to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide gas. They can be traded for cash if the limit is not reached.

A City of London Police spokesperson said: “Together with our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), we apologise that the evidential and procedural issues in the case have led to its dismissal. Regrettably we haven’t been able to provide these victims with the level of service we continually strive for and for that we sincerely apologise.”

Barrister Narita Bahra QC said the case highlighted the CPS’ continuing disclosure problems, which have previously caused the collapse of a string of rape cases.

“"As a result of the cross-examination of Mr Ager, the safety of the convictions in every previous carbon credits prosecution is now in question.

“I have been involved in a number of cases with disclosure failings in them, the CPS has been at pains to say it only relates to cases of a sexual nature, what this shows is that it is more systemic.”

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "We have a duty to continuously review all our cases. Information has recently been brought to the attention of CPS which has led to the conclusion that our legal test for prosecution was no longer met and that it would be wrong to continue with the case against the defendants.

"We are considering past cases to identify any in which Andrew Ager appeared as an expert witness and will consider any action necessary once these have been fully reviewed. Mr Ager will not be used as an expert witness in any future cases."

The case is yet another reminder that evidence in court must not only be expertly gleaned but equally expertly interpreted for a jury, to avoid injustice and failure to convict as well as miscarriage of justice and wrongful conviction.