On 6th February 2015 the Court Appeal quashed the conviction of our client Y, a female victim of human trafficking who has been convicted of possession of false identity documentation. Y was trafficked to the UK and had been sexually exploited. We did not represent Y in the original proceedings at the Crown Court at which she pleaded guilty but we were instructed on appeal. R v Y EWCA Crim 123 is another important victory for victims of human trafficking. Unusually the Court of Appeal commended Birds Solicitors and Wilsons Solicitors (immigration) when handing down judgment saying that both firms were “to be commended for the quality and quantity of their endeavours”.
This judgment is a step forward in the UK honouring its obligations under the anti trafficking and non- punishment provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The court has again recognised that victims of human trafficking should not be prosecuted and criminalised for offences they have been compelled to commit.
Y was represented by Philippa Southwell of this firm and Maya Sikand at Garden Court Chambers. We have numerous other clients in a similar position where their cases are either with or on their way to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the Court of Appeal or the Crown Court in its appellate capacity (where the matter was dealt with in the Youth Court or Magistrates’ Court).
In a further case we managed to have the prosecution of another victim of human trafficking discontinued.
In R v KV we made an application to the Magistrates’ Court under section 142 Magistrates Court Act 1980 to reopen this case. KV had been a victim of human trafficking and was convicted of road traffic offences linked to his exploitation. On 16th December 2014 the Crown discontinued the proceedings at Bournemouth Magistrates Court.
Philippa Southwell of this firm represented KV and made successful representations that the prosecution contravened CPS guidance on human trafficking, was against the public interest and contrary to the European Convention’s Non Punishment provision. Once instructed we had the case reopened in light of the recent Court of Appeal judgment R v L, THN & Ors, for which Miss Southwell also represented the Appellant THN. The Prosecution conceded to our representations and offered no evidence.
Philippa Southwell specialises in representing victims of human trafficking. Anyone who believes they may have a case which would fit within the criteria and wishes to challenge the conviction or seek advice on this area should contact us immediately.