Tom Schofield Crime
‘Fiercely independent; highly motivated and professional; and with a singleminded approach to his clients’ interests’, Tom is considered a formidable advocate by his clients and peers alike.
Described by the Right Honourable Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, (Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Kt. PC), as making ‘attractive and measured submissions’ and advancing his arguments ‘eloquently’, Tom is considered a rising star.
He is a specialist criminal and regulatory practitioner, with a proven track record of success.
Tom’s strength lies in his complete commitment to every case he is involved in. He moves between the criminal and civil jurisdictions effortlessly; has a meticulous approach to preparation; is always prepared to go the extra mile; and places great emphasis on winning the trust of his clients and treating them with respect.
Tom has defended in a wide range of criminal cases as leading and junior counsel, including: fraud; serious financial crimes; complex drugs conspiracies; homicides - including corporate manslaughter (on which Tom has lectured widely); and serious sexual offences. Tom has a particular expertise in defending in cases of fraud (including missing trader intra community frauds) and cyber-frauds. Tom’s recent cyber-fraud cases involved attacks on the Carbon Credit registries of the United Nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Spain. Also, a cyber-fraud alleged to have been committed against Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers; and an alleged cyber-fraud involving music file sharing. Tom also accepts instructions in civil frauds.
Tom is a Level 4 prosecutor – one of the youngest ever to have reached that rank. He is security cleared by the government, and as such is able to accept instructions in cases involving offences affecting National Security or the disclosure of material affecting national security. Tom has also been instructed by the CPS to provide pre-charge advice and authorise charges in respect of some of the most serious cases dealt with by the Public Protection Unit. Tom has also been instructed by the CPS Appeals Unit to review ‘cold cases’ or where there has been an application for permission to appeal many years ‘out of time’.
Tom also has experienced of advising on, and conducting private prosecutions.
Regulatory, Professional Discipline & Quasi Crime
In the last 10 years, regulation of the private sector has grown exponentially. Cases involving alleged breaches of regulatory codes or professional discipline demand the best advocates because the shakes are so high. Tom’s experience of prosecuting and defending in some of the most complex and grave criminal cases, has endowed him with the essential skills which clients demand in cases involving regulatory breaches, professional discipline or quasi-crime: premier advocacy; tactical awareness; forensic interrogation of telecommunications, banking, or accounting material; and extensive knowledge of court rules and procedure. He offers the complete package to clients in cases concerning the following matters:
- Prosecutions brought by BIS, Trading Standards, DWP, SFO, HSE, FCA etc;
- Breaches of Regulatory Codes (Trading Standards, Food Standards, Trademarks, Health and Safety, Noise Abatement);
- Director Disqualification;
- Professional Discipline (Police, Medical professions, Pharmaceutical, Accountancy, etc) - see MISCONDUCT PROFILE;
- First Tier Tax Tribunals;
- Data Protection Digital Security;
- Sports law (Tribunals);
- Money Laundering/ Bribery Regulations;
- Motoring law (unfair disqualifications; technical defences to road traffic offences); and
- Costs appeals;
Tom has a particular interest in Appeals (including judicial review and case stated) and advises on appealing against wrongful convictions; excessive sentences; and unfair confiscation orders. He has considerable experience in the Court of Appeal, and has been involved in many reported cases. A small selection includes (neutral citation referred to for ease of research):
R v Bobby Samra (2014) EWCA Crim 2748 - appeal before the Lord Chief Justice concerning the proper application of the ‘totality principle’ in sentencing.
R v Altaf Ahmed (2014) [reserved judgment to be reported] — conjoined appeal before Leveson LJ(P)
R v Mohammed Shiraz (2014) [to be reported] - the proper used of the slip rule in the crown court;
R v Wheaton and Tumara  EWCA Crim 1667 - proper application of the sentencing guidelines for drugs offences where there has been a reclassification of the drugs between the commission of the offence and sentence;
R v Swinbourne  EWCA Crim 2329 (2014) 178 J.P. 34 - the admissibility of confessions in fitness to plead hearings;
R v Matthews  EWCA Crim 2247 - a fresh evidence case where HMRC had suppressed disclosable material during a trial;
R v Ziarat Mahmood  EWCA Crim 1291 - a post R v Waya case. Successfully obtained the return of £50,000 to a defendant who had been made the subject of an unfair and disproportionate confiscation order based on giving inaccurate income information in a mortgage application; and
R v GH (Criminal Propensity)  EWCA Crim 2899 (2010) 174 J.P. 203 - successful appeal against conviction. Leading authority on ‘reverse propensity evidence’.
Tom is regularly asked to review cases in which he was not involved at first instance, to advise on any potential points of appeal. Tom has has considerable success in such appeals.
25% of Tom’s practice is taken up with confiscation matters. He advises on potential challenges to restraint orders and confiscation orders, and regularly appears in the Court of Appeal concerning such matters. Tom has been at the forefront of challenges to the draconian POCA confiscation regime. Long before the Supreme Court decided in the landmark authority of R v Waya (2013) 1 AC 294 that the mortgage advance in a case of mortgage fraud, could not be considered a part of the defendant’s benefit from his criminal conduct, Tom argued the exact same point in an application to the Court of Appeal, in R v Ziarat Mahmood  EWCA Crim 1291. Initially, the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal but later granted leave (after R v Waya reached the Supreme Court) and accepted that Tom’s argument was right all along. That decision resulted in the defendant being repaid £50,000 by the confiscation authorities. Tom was also involved in the trial which later resulted in the latest landmark confiscation authority of R (Respondent) v Fields and others  UKSC 36 in which the Supreme Court settled the issue over apportionment and enforcement of confiscation orders in multi handed conspiracies.
Cash Forfeiture and Asset Recovery
Tom has extensive experience in this field. His experience in criminal cases of fraud and money laundering has provided him with essential knowledge and experience to assist respondents seeking the return of their money. He has acted for applicants and respondents in cash forfeiture applications by police forces, HMRC and other government authorities.
Tom has lectured widely on asset recovery and the connected issue of money laundering:
2009 - Money Laundering, Bribery & Asset Recovery 2009 (New Delhi, India);
2013 - GCS 9th Annual AML/ Compliance & Financial Crime Conference/ Proceeds of Crime Legislation in the UK (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands).
Tom has a developing international practice, stretching from India to the Caribbean and recognises the demand from overseas for high levels of expertise in advocacy. Tom has lectured in New Delhi and the Cayman Islands on Money Laundering offences and regulation (see above), and worked in Dubai to secure evidence in a domestic case with an international dimension. In 2015, he has cases which are likely to take him to China, Hong Kong, USA, and Russia.
Tom also accepts instructions in extradition matters.
Public/ Direct Access
An increasing number of Tom’s client’s choose to instruct him directly. They do so because they can obtain the best advice at an early stage of the proceedings. Also, because many cases which begin as public access later require litigators, Tom is able to give clients the best independent advice on which Solicitors to instruct. The following are a few Tom’s recent direct access cases:
R v KK  - secured permission to appeal for a man convicted of a multi million pound mortgage fraud and money laundering, when represented by a different barrister.
R v DB  - represented a client in an appeal against conviction based on allegations of negligence by the Solicitor Advocate who represented him at trial.
R v MP  - Restraint Order and Crown Court Trial. Complex fraud and money laundering allegation;
R v GRS  - Confiscation Order and Court of Appeal proceedings. Seeking to overturn a hidden assets finding at first instance. Application to vary the order and appeal to the CACD;
R v RK  - Crown Court Trial. Perverting the course of justice allegation;
R v GS  - Cash forfeiture proceedings and appeal. Acted for a professional poker player who had been found with a large amount of cash;
R v FH  - Crown Court trial. Wounding with intent allegation;
R v S  - Motoring matters. Disqualification and Special Reasons hearing.
Tom is a former junior and secretary of the Midland Circuit and an Executive Member of the Criminal Bar Association. He is also a Pupillage Supervisor.
Tom has a strong belief in equal opportunities.
R v UK (2014) - Defence. Sham Marriage conspiracy. Complex issues of competence and compellability of witnesses and recognition of foreign marriages. Tom successfully argued that there was no case to answer in respect of this client - the only defendant to be acquitted at this stage.
R v PK (2014) - Leading junior defence counsel in the first prosecution of a Crystal Meth laboratory conspiracy. Probe and telecommunications evidence, and complex disclosure issues. Exposed failures by the Prosecution, which led to the High Court Justice discharging the jury.
R v LH (2014) - Defence. Successfully secured the acquittal of a woman accused of being a part of a multimillion pound conspiracy with 7 others to steal metal from Network Rail.
R v MS (2014) - Prosecuted in an appeal to the Court of Appeal, concerning a Circuit Judge’s powers to increase sentence under the ‘slip rule’ where he believed he had made a mistake as to his sentencing powers, and whether he had the power to depart from the sentencing guidelines in an unusual case.
R v TG (2014) - Defending in an ongoing case involving an allegation of a £50 million money laundering conspiracy.
R v MJ (2014) - Defending in an ongoing case involving an alleged multi million pound fraud on Virgin Media.
Operation Cinder (2014) - Defending in an ongoing case involving an alleged conspiracy to kidnap and torture. The case is said to be the most complicated ever investigated by the Warwickshire police involving thousands of pages of telephone data.
R v CL (2014) - Defending in an ongoing fraud case involving an alleged cyber attack in the City of London.
R v AB (2014) - Defend in a case involving the alleged interception of money transfers in the heart of London’s financial centre, by Royal Mail Staff.
Operation Damascus (2014) - Successfully prosecuted 12 Defendants in a case involving international conspiracies to import into the UK and supply, tens of kilograms of Cocaine and 12 tons of Cannabis. A complicated case involving evidence of intercepted telephone calls in Spain and Holland, and the analysis of telephone and cell site data.
R v SS (2013) - Successfully defended in an alleged fraud on Royal Mail by an ‘Amazon’ style business.
R v FS (2013) - Defended in an appeal to the Court of Appeal against a finding that the Appellant (who suffered from a mental disability) had raped his partner’s friend. The trial judge had permitted the Crown to adduce the Appellant’s lies in interview to support the Crown’s case of a lack of consent, notwithstanding the fact that the Appellant was incapable of understanding the police caution. The Court of Appeal agreed that this evidence should have been excluded.
R v AM (2013) - Defended in an appeal against conviction in the Court of Appeal, concerning the suppression of evidence by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in a trial involving the Appellant. The Appellant was the Director of a company which owned state of the art technology which was being used without licence in the UK and thus causing a significant loss to the Revenue. In the trial concerning whether or not the Appellant had committed an Aggravated Burglary with others to steal the technology’s source codes back, HMRC suppressed the fact that the Appellant’s Co-Defendant was their informant.
R v NS (2012) - Defended in a high profile trial concerning the largest fraud in history committed against the NHS. A dentist made over 7000 claims for payment by the NHS, for dental work which was never done. The case involved hundreds of thousands of used and unused documents and required an in depth understanding of dental procedures. The case attracted significant national media attention.
R v JS (2012) - Defended in a case concerning a cyber attack on the United Nations and Spanish Carbon Credit Registries. Hackers sent emails with virus attachments, to staff working in the Carbon Credit stock market. Once opened, the attachments were able to find passwords for transfers to be made undetected. £4 million worth of credits were stolen.
R v NA (2012) - Defended in a massive conspiracy to import by air and sea, hundreds of kilograms of heroin into the UK, inside ‘arvi’ (an Asian vegetable).
R v KJ (2012) - Defended in a conspiracy to steal and handle millions of pounds worth of beer kegs. Beer kegs have a high scrap value and were being stolen rather than returned to the brewers who owned them. The case involved complex legal issues concerning the ownership of the kegs.
R v ZM (2012) - Successfully Defended in an appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning valuations in Confiscation proceedings. The Appellant was convicted of mortgage fraud. He gave false or misleading information to a mortgage company which in due course, transferred to him a mortgage advance with which he bought a property. The court at first instance ruled that the value of his benefit from the crime, was the value of the mortgage advance, whereas it was the Appellant’s case that the value of his benefit was the equity of redemption.
Operation Acumen (2011) - Successfully prosecuted in a case concerning police misconduct and corruption. Police officers, police staff, and outside contractors had conspired to extract valuable payments for goods and services which were never provided. A highly sensitive case which was tried at the height of the MP expenses scandal.
R v GH (2010) - Successfully defended in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in the leading authority on the admission ‘reverse propensity evidence’ - evidence of the propensity of a non Defendant to commit the crime of which the Defendant is accused.
R v M (2010) - Successfully prosecuted a suspected Terrorist for drug trafficking. Complex disclosure issues and involvement of MI5.