Tom Schofield Crime
‘Fiercely independent; highly motivated and professional; and with a single-minded 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’, and commended by the Right Honourable Vice President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal (Lady Justice Hallett, DBE PC) for leading the submissions in a complex 6 appellant appeal,Tom is considered a rising star.
He is a specialist criminal and regulatory practitioner, with a national practice and 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 and money laundering; serious financial crimes and insider trading; complex drugs conspiracies; homicides - including corporate manslaughter (on which Tom has lectured); organised crime and international firearms trafficking; 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 worth over £5 million; a control word sharing fraud on Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers worth over £50 million; and illegal 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 has experienced advising in respect of 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 stakes 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);
- Costs appeals; and
Tom has a particular interest in appeals (primarily to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, but including judicial review and case stated) and frequently advises on appealing against wrongful convictions; excessive sentences; and unfair confiscation orders – often where he was not original trial counsel. He has considerable experience in the Court of Appeal and has been involved in many reported cases. A small selection includes:
R v Lewis Poyser and others (2017) – defended 4 appellants in a post-R v Jogee appeal. The Appellants were convicted on the basis of parasitic accessorial liability by continuing to be involved in a kidnapping whilst foreseeing the possibility that the principal offender might wound the victim with intent, in order to reinforce the ransom demands in a way which was demonstrable to the victim’s family. R v Jogee decided that the doctrine of parasitic accessorial liability was the result of a ‘wrong turning’ in the law and that a secondary party must share the intent of the principal (foresight alone being insufficient and merely evidence of intent). Tom argued that when viewed in the context of the law as it now stands, the appellants’ convictions must be unsafe. Much of the argument in the hearing centred on whether the appellants should be given leave to appeal and whether they had suffered substantial injustice;
R v HM  [reporting restrictions apply] – successfully overturned a conviction for an appellant alleged to be involved a multi-million-pound money laundering arrangement. Millions of pounds in Sterling was deposited with the Defendant and others and then transferred to a Hawala banker who in turn transferred the money to Iran. The Defendant claims that the money had a legitimate origin and had been raised by expatriate Kurds in the UK, to send back to Kurds in Iran who are currently facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). Tom argued that the learned trial judge had undermined his own directions to the jury at the conclusion of the case, such that the Court could not be sure that the jury had safely convicted;
R v Dilbagh Summan  – application to appeal against conviction for fraud. It was argued that the Prosecution had authorised the wrong charge in order to circumvent the 6 months’ time limit on the instigation of proceedings in summary cases;
R v Taranjit Singh Gill  – application for permission to appeal. The Applicant was convicted of involvement in a £35 million money laundering arrangement which involved the setting up of sham businesses to disguise criminal cash being laundered through money service bureaux.
R v Alan Evans  – application for permission to appeal against a conviction for murder. The Applicant was convicted of murdering his wife by throwing her down a flight of stairs and then smothering her to death. He claimed at trial that the death had been caused as a result of a tragic accident. Post-conviction, material was disclosed/ discovered which (it was argued) could give rise to the possibility that a third party intruder was responsible for the death;
R v Kishor Kuchhadia  EWCA Crim 1384 – appeal against conviction for money laundering. At trial, there was evidence of hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenditure yet the appellant had no visible means of support. The trial judge ruled that this was sufficient to raise a case against the appellant. At the appeal, it was argued that the trial judge had misinterpreted the authority of R v Anwoir which permits juries to find the existence of ‘criminal property’ without any direct evidence of the same. The Court was persuaded that the trial judge should have given further directions;
R v Naqash Younis  EWCA Crim 1102 – successful appeal against sentence for trafficking in 15kg of heroin;
R v Ajaz Budi  EWCA Crim 35 – successful appeal against conviction and sentence, on the basis of a biased summing up;
R v Bobby Samra  EWCA Crim 2748 - appeal before the Lord Chief Justice concerning the proper application of the ‘totality principle’ in sentencing;
R v Altaf Ahmed  — conjoined appeal before Leveson LJ(P) concerning the admissibility of bad character evidence in ‘did he do the act’ hearings;
R v Mohammed Shiraz  - 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 ‘did he do the act’ hearings;
R v Matthews  EWCA Crim 2247 - a fresh evidence case where HMRC had suppressed disclosable material during a trial. At trial, the principal defendant had claimed that when he committed the alleged offence he was acting as an informant for HMRC and directed by a handler. That claim was heavily criticised by the trial judge in his summing up to the jury. After conviction, the Prosecution revealed that in fact the principal defendant had been an informant and had been in contact with his handler before and after the alleged commission of the offence;
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. The appellant was accused of robbery. He claimed that the culprit was not him, and named another (A). A had convictions for robbery and the defence applied to adduce those convictions to support the argument that A was the robber. The trial judge refused the application and ruled that ‘propensity’ evidence in respect of non-defendants, was not admissible. At the appeal, the Court agreed that there the trial judge was wrong. This case is the 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 had 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 of apportionment and enforcement of confiscation orders in multi-handed conspiracies. Tom was also involved in a recent post R v Guraj  UKSC 65 appeal – in Guraj, the Supreme Court gave guidance on how to deal with a failure by the Crown Court to make a confiscation order within the 2 year ‘permitted period’.
Third party interests in confiscation proceedings
The provisions of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (SCA) which came into force in June 2015, made certain amendments to the rights of third parties to confiscation proceedings, and to the Court’s obligations to such parties. The newly amended section 10A(2), Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), now provides for individuals who claim to have a third party interest in the assets of Respondents to confiscation applications, to make representations at the hearing and to be represented by counsel. Prior to this change in the law, third parties had no right to be heard in confiscation hearings and could only assert their interest in property owned by a Respondent, at the enforcement stage. SCA 2015 also created a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) by third parties, in the event of the Court refusing or failing to permit a third party to make representations to the Court concerning his interests (see section 31(5)(b), POCA 2002).
Tom regularly accepts instructions from clients with third party interests.
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 corporate compliance responsibilities in respect 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 previously travelled to Dubai and Germany to secure evidence in domestic cases with an international dimension.
Tom also accepts instructions in extradition matters.
Public/ Direct Access
An increasing number of Tom’s clients 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 of Tom’s recent direct access cases:
R v AE  – application for permission to appeal against a conviction for murder. The Applicant was convicted of murdering his wife by throwing her down a flight of stairs and then smothering her to death. He claimed at trial that the death had been caused as a result of a tragic accident. Post-conviction, material was disclosed/ discovered which (it was argued) could give rise to the possibility that a third party intruder was responsible for the death
R v SSM  – appeal against sentence for causing death by dangerous driving. One girl was killed and another girl suffered life-threatening injuries when the Appellant’s car collided with them. The appellant was speeding; was over the prescribed limit for alcohol, and he had been racing with another car before the collision;
R v KK  - appeal against conviction for money laundering. This appeal concerned whether the prosecution could prove the existence of ‘criminal property’ without any direct evidence of the same. The appellant had paid for a number of luxury cars (Ferrari Spider; Mercedes Brabus; Range Rover; Porsche) with money from a series of bank accounts. He had paid no tax during the relevant period and had no known legitimate income in the UK. The issue was whether this was enough to prove that the money was the proceeds of a crime;
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 asset finding at first instance. Application to vary the order and appeal to the CACD;
R v RK  - Crown Court Trial. The defendant was accused of perverting the course of justice by fabricating an allegation of racial abuse against his neighbour, in the context of a long-standing neighbour dispute. Tom secured the defendant’s acquittal despite the fact that the alleged racial abuse had taken place in the sight of a CCTV camera and no racial abuse could be heard;
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; and
R v S  - Motoring matters. Disqualification and Special Reasons hearing.
Former junior and secretary of the Midland Circuit.
Executive Member of the Criminal Bar Association.
Tom has a strong belief in equal opportunities.
R v SH (2016) – Defending (lead by Orlando Pownall QC) one of the principal defendants in an alleged conspiracy to import up to 500kg of heroin into the UK secreted in lathes. Said to be a case involving the most complex telecommunications analysis by the country’s leading cell site analyst;
R v GB (2017) – defended in a human trafficking case involving repeated facilitations of unlawful entry into the UK by Indian nationals via the Channel tunnel;
R v SM (2017) – defending in an ongoing case involving a multi-million-pound money laundering arraignment whereby the proceeds of a tax fraud were laundered through ha complex web of bank accounts;
R v IA (2017) – defending in an ongoing case alleged revenue fraud. The defendant is alleged to have hijacked charities and later set up sham charities, in order to make false ‘Gift Aid’ repayment claims to HMRC.
R v HM (2017) – Leading counsel (defending) in an ongoing case involving a multi-million-pound money laundering arrangement using the Hawala banking system. Millions of pounds in Sterling was deposited with the Defendant and others and then transferred to a Hawala banker who in turn transferred the money to Iran. The Defendant claims that the money had a legitimate origin and had been raised by ex-patriate Kurds in the UK, to send back to Kurds in Iran who are currently facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh);
R v SR (2017) – defended in a multi-kilo drug trafficking case. After Tom’s cross-examination of the Prosecution telecommunications expert, the Prosecution was forced to drop an allegation against the Defendant which involved a conspiracy to supply up to 60kg of Cocaine;
R v BP (2017) – defended in a case involving a multimillion pound money laundering arrangement. Sham companies were set up and invoices fabricated to provide the appearance of legitimacy when £40 million in cash was deposited with money service bureaux and transferred to India. Complex issues concerning corporate regulation;
R v TS (2017) – defended in 2 linked trials of the same defendant. In each case, it was alleged that the defendant had been involved in the commercial trafficking of firearms, including pistols and a Skorpion machine gun. Complex telecommunications analyses;
R v MJ & AW (2017) - Defended in a case alleging a multi-million-pound fraud on Virgin Media. The Defendants were accused of selling non-Virgin set top boxes which allowed customers to receive TV programs and movies without having to pay a subscription. The Defendants were alleged to have facilitated this by establishing an illicit network of servers in the UK and abroad which broadcast encrypted ‘control words’ which had been obtained and fraudulently ‘shared’. A case involving a myriad of legal issues and technical experts;
R v OO (2016) – defended in a case alleging the management of a highly successful and profitable brothel called ‘Libra’ in Birmingham. The Prosecution’s evidence was that the brothel had been run responsibly; that underage or trafficked girls had not been employed; that no drugs were sold or used at the brothel; and that there had been considerable co-operation between the owners of the brothel and the police. It was argued that the Prosecution of the defendants was unfair and oppressive; that the police had known that Libra was a brothel and had conducted monthly welfare checks; and that the police had effectively given their blessing to the owners of Libra to continue operating as a brothel, but had reneged on that blessing so that they could seize the vast proceeds of the business.
R v NP (2016) – defended in a massive trading standards case alleging that advertising was miss-sold to vulnerable customers by using high-pressure sales techniques;
R v JP (2016) – defended in a substantial ‘cash for crash’ insurance fraud case. 25 defendants named in the indictment;
R v NH (2016) – Defended in a case concerning drug trafficking in Birmingham. Over 30 Defendants are involved in the case;
R v BH (2015) – defended one of the principal defendants in an 8 handed grooming case involving 15 alleged victims. Significant disclosure issues. Abuse of process. Application by ‘The Times’ to lift reporting restrictions;
R v HSG (2015) – defended in significant trading standards case. The Defendant was a highly successful letting agent who managed over 350 properties. The Defendant was prosecuted for claiming an alleged hidden markup on maintenance costs;
R v HF (2015) – successfully secured the acquittal of a lady accused of defrauding Tesco Plc of hundreds of thousands of pounds and laundering the proceeds;
Operation Damascus (2015) [R v LC] – Prosecuted in a case involving conspiracy to import Cocaine and 12 tonnes of Cannabis from Spain;
R v SP  – defended in double attempted murder case. The Defendant was seen on CCTV footage purchasing a carving knife before going on a rampage through the streets of Cambridge. Two victims attacked and life-threatening injuries caused. Fitness to plead and insanity defence issues;
R v PS (2015) – Prosecuted in a murder case. The deceased was attacked by the Defendant in 2003 and the defendant pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm contemporaneously. The victim died in 2014. Complex issues relating to causation;
R v TG (2015) - Defended in a case involving a £35 million money laundering scheme, where the alleged offenders offered a criminal banking service to organised criminals. Cash would be collected and deposited into the accounts of shell companies and then transferred by money service businesses to China and India. Complex legal issues;
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 multi-million-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;
Operation Cinder (2014) - Defending in a 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) - Defended in a fraud case involving an alleged cyber attack in the City of London;
R v AB (2014) - Defended 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 kilogrammes of Cocaine and 12 tonnes 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 an 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 a 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. £5 million worth of credits were stolen;
R v NA (2012) - Defended in a massive conspiracy to import by air and sea, hundreds of kilogrammes 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; and
R v M (2010) - Successfully prosecuted a suspected Terrorist for drug trafficking. Complex disclosure issues and involvement of MI5.