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Background

Thomas Schofield

Call: 2001

Tom was described by a former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, (Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, PC), as making ‘attractive and measured submissions’ and advancing his arguments ‘eloquently’ in a complex sentencing appeal. He was commended by the former 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 against conviction involving silks and concerning the principle of joint enterprise, and by the current Vice President (Lord Justice Holroyde, PC) for ‘presenting the applicant’s case with considerable skill’ in an important appeal against conviction. He was complimented by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave for his ‘able’ submissions opposing an application to lift reporting restrictions, in a complex and high-profile case; and was praised by another former Lord Chief Justice (Lord Burnett of Maldon, PC) for his succinct and powerful submissions in a successful appeal against a wasted costs order made against a solicitor. Tom is considered a rising star.

He is a specialist criminal and regulatory practitioner, with a nationwide practice and a proven track record of success.

Tom’s strength lies in his complete commitment to every case in which he is involved. 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.

Expertise

Crime

Tom has been instructed 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; modern slavery; terrorism; and serious sexual offences. Tom has a particular expertise in in cases of fraud (including missing trader intra community frauds, cyber-frauds, long-firm and diversion frauds). Tom’s previous fraud cases involved: a £100 million alcohol diversion and excise fraud; attacks on the Carbon Credit registries of the United Nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Spain; and a control word sharing fraud worth over £50 million on Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers. Tom also accepts instructions in civil frauds.

Tom provided pre-appeal pro bono advice to 16 of the sub-postmaster and mistresses whose convictions were subsequently were overturned owing to the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Tom is a former Treasury Counsel monitoree. The origins of Treasury Counsel are steeped in history. As long ago as 1834, there was a plan to appoint full-time public prosecutors at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) although it was not until 1879 that two counsel had been appointed to prosecute full-time for the Crown. In 1888, the then Attorney General recommended to the Departmental Committee on the legal business of Government that the number of Treasury Counsel be increased. Today, there are usually sixteen Treasury Counsel based at the Central Criminal Court, divided into two groups of eight Senior and eight Junior Treasury Counsel. During Tom’s two-year tenure as a monitoree, he prosecuted homicides at the Old Bailey and frequently acted for Her Majesty’s Attorney General and Solicitor General in sentence cases referred to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) for being unduly lenient.

Tom is a Level 4 prosecutor. 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 experience of advising in respect of, and conducting private prosecutions.

Regulatory

In the last 20 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 BEIS, 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);

·        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

·        Inquests.

 

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

Tom has particular expertise in proceedings before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The IPT is a unique Tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear certain complaints against the Security Services, the National Crime Agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and police forces in respect of covert surveillance, telephone interception, and device interference.

He is currently instructed by one of the lead complainants in the conjoined ‘EncroChat’ case in which complaint is made about the warrants obtained by the National Crime Agency to source communications data intercepted by the French Gendarmerie.

Tom has also been involved in IPT complaints concerning: the obtaining of a search warrant with the alleged ulterior motive of taking the opportunity to place a covert listening device (a probe) in a home, without informing the Court granting the warrant of the ulterior motive; and directed and intrusive surveillance allegedly conducted without appropriate authorisations.

Criminal Fraud & Proceeds of Crime

Confiscation, Asset Recovery, and Account/Cash Forfeiture

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 [2013] 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 landmark confiscation authority of R (Respondent) v Fields and others [2014] UKSC 36 in which the Supreme Court settled the issue over apportionment and enforcement of confiscation orders in multi handed conspiracies. Tom was also involved in a post R v Guraj [2016] 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 years’ ‘permitted period’.

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 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 – although, in R v Hilton (Respondent) (Northern Ireland) [2020] UKSC 29 the Supreme Court preserved the right of interested third parties to assert their interest at the enforcement stage, if not considered at the time of the making of a confiscation order. 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.

Tom has extensive experience in the field of cash forfeiture, account freezing and forfeiture orders and unexplained wealth orders. A couple of Tom’s recent cases include:

·        X v The Commissioners of police of the Metropolis (2021) – Tom led the defence team in the then biggest account forfeiture order application in English legal history. The team successfully negotiated the return of over €3 million to the client. See https://www.independent.co.uk/business/companies-agree-to-forfeit-ps29m-allegedly-linked-to-money-laundering-b1943632.html

·        Bapinder Sandhu v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2019] EWHC 3316 (Admin).

Tom has lectured widely on asset recovery and corporate compliance responsibilities in respect of money laundering:

·        Money Laundering, Bribery & Asset Recovery seminar (New Delhi, India);

·        GCS 9th Annual AML convention [Compliance & Financial Crime Conference/ Proceeds of Crime Legislation in the UK] (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands).

Notable Crime Cases


R v Neophytou and Neophytou [2021] EWCA Crim 169

an appeal against the making of a multi-million pound hidden assets confiscation order, on the basis that: the learned judge at first instance miscalculated the benefit figure by extrapolating the turnover of two illicit businesses from just 6 days of footfall data from one of those businesses; failed to give due regard to the delay in the proceedings; wrongly increased the confiscation order to reflect the change in value of money, when the money had not been wholly retained; and imposed an unfair default term. Tom is conducting an appeal against the Court
of Appeal’s judgment, to the European Court of Human Rights. One of the grounds is that it is a breach of Article 5 of the Convention to impose a default term for a longer period than the maximum sentence for the substantive offence.


R v Paul Dunleavy [2021] EWCA Crim 39

– against convictions for terrorism offences. The judge at first instance had withdrawn from the jury the only defence (reasonable excuse under section 58(3) of the Terrorism Act 2000) to offences of collecting documents likely to be useful to a terrorist, in a case where the Appellant was 16 years old and suffering from Aspergers Syndrome (High Functioning Autism) – a symptom of which can be highly focused, obsessive interests in guns. Moreover, the trial judge rejected the submission that in an offence of preparing to commit a terrorist act, the jury had to be unanimous as to whether the Defendant intended to commit an act of terrorism himself or intended to assist another to do so. This was the first case in which psychiatric evidence was deemed admissible on the issue of whether it was ‘reasonable’ in law for a person suffering from Autism to indulge their curiosity to collect material likely to be useful to a terrorist (in this case, gun making manuals)


Re. Sadhana Soni (a solicitor) [2019] EWCA Crim 1304

– successfully defended a solicitor who was made the subject of a substantial wasted costs order by the Recorder of Leicester. The solicitor, who was not involved in criminal proceedings, made a request for information about a criminal case in the Crown Court so that it could be used in civil proceedings against the defendant. The court declined the request and then issued a wasted costs order in respect of the time it had taken the parties to respond to the request.

The Lord Chief Justice agreed with Tom’s argument that the solicitor and her clients had not been parties to the criminal proceedings (a condition precedent for a wasted costs order) and so quashed the wasted costs order.


Bapinder Sandhu v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2019] EWHC 3316 (Admin)

– represented the Applicant in an appeal by way of case stated. The applicant was found with over £50,000 in cash. The police made an application to forfeit the cash on the basis that on a balance of probabilities, it derived from some form of predicate crime and was going to be laundered in the future. The issue in the appeal was whether the police were required to identify the class of predicate crime;


R v Lewis Poyser and others [2017] EWCA Crim 800

– 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 HM [2017] (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 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). 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 Alan Evans [2015]

– 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 8 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 discovered which (it was argued) could give rise to the possibility that a third-party intruder was responsible for the death.


R v KK [2015] EWCA Crim 13

– 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 Ajaz Budi [2015] EWCA Crim 35

– successful appeal against conviction and sentence, on the basis of a biased summing up


R v Wheaton and Tumara [2014] 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 [2013] EWCA Crim 2329 (2014) 178 J.P. 34

– the admissibility of confessions in ‘did he do the act’ hearings (hearings in which defendants are unfit to plead or stand trial);


R v Ziarat Mahmood [2013] 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 Tom is regularly asked to review cases in which he was not involved at first instance, 10 to advise on any potential points of appeal. Tom has had considerable success in such appeals.


R v XX (2024)

defending in the case of theft of a piece of art (a toilet made from solid gold and worth £5 million) called ‘America’ from Blenheim Palace.


R v JC (2024)

Defending in the lead EncroChat case (Operation Embossed II) at Manchester Crown Court. Involves complex cryptographic expert evidence


R v AH (2024)

– defending in Southwark Crown Court in a multi-million pound alcohol diversion fraud. Issues of abuse of process owing to delay and fitness to plead.


R v PR (2023)

defended in Liverpool Crown Court in the case involving a man who assisted the killer of Olivia Korbel Pratt, ex post facto


R v SJ (2023)

defended at Leicester Crown Court in a case where the defendant was said to have fabricated his dying sister’s will to make himself the beneficiary of her estate. Complex expert evidence regarding handwriting expertise (and the effect of cancer treatment on the same) and cell site analysis.


R v RS (2023)

defended in Leicester Crown Court in a case involving a defendant accused of assisting in the kidnapping of Angel Lynn before she suffered catastrophic brain injuries when she exited a van travelling a speed. Successfully resisted the Solicitor General’s application to increase sentence.


R v MH (2023-24)

leading junior for defendant in Sheffield Crown Court a case involving the importation of £1.59 billion worth of Cocaine into the UK from the Netherlands, hidden inside frozen chicken.


Insolvency Service v CF (2023-24)

leading junior for the defence in Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court in a £17 million revenue fraud case.


R v KA (2023-24)

defending in a substantial EncroChat case at the Old Bailey.


R v RV (2023-24)

defending in a substantial EncroChat case at Worcester Crown Court, involving a bail appeal to the High Court.


R v OP (2023)

defending in a substantial EncroChat case at Birmingham Crown Court involving a Judicial Review of a decision to refuse bail.


R v WA (2023)

leading junior defending in a substantial EncroChat case at Reading Crown Court.


R v MG (2023)

defending in the ‘TikTok’ multiple-murder trial in which it was alleged 2 men were run off the road and killed to prevent the revelation of an affair.


KS v the National Crime Agency (2020-24)

or a lead Claimant against the National Crime Agency in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, concerning the warrants used to obtain EncroChat evidence from France. Application for permission to appeal to the CACD lodged. Case seems destined for ECHR


Regulatory

n the last 20 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 BEIS, 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);
  • 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
  • Inquests.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

Tom has particular expertise in proceedings before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The IPT is a unique Tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear certain complaints against the Security Services, the National Crime Agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and police forces in respect of covert surveillance, telephone interception, and device interference.

He is currently instructed by one of the lead complainants in the conjoined ‘EncroChat’ case in which complaint is made about the warrants obtained by the National Crime Agency to source communications data intercepted by the French Gendarmerie.

Tom has also been involved in IPT complaints concerning: the obtaining of a search warrant with the alleged ulterior motive of taking the opportunity to place a covert listening device (a probe) in a home, without informing the Court granting the warrant of the ulterior motive; and directed and intrusive surveillance allegedly conducted without appropriate authorisations.

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