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Published by The Gloucestershire Constabulary, 29 Oct 2004

For electronic or hard copy, Contact Chelmsford (01242) 276071.

ďOPERATION ALISONĒ

The Investigation into Robinsonís Solicitors

Concerning Legal Aid Fraud
 

******** CONTENTS ********



A) Introduction 2

B) Section One

1) Summary 4
2) The Enquiry 7
3) The Defendants 10
4) The Trials 15
5) The Appeals 18

C) Section Two

1) Human Resources 20
2) Documentation 22
3) E.S.D.A. 23
4) Disclosure 25


******* INTRODUCTION*******


Operation Alison was a protracted and complex enquiry into the criminal activity of Robinsonís Solicitors, which involved police officers from three police forces - Gloucestershire, Avon and Somerset, and Wiltshire.

The enquiry amassed a mountain of documentary exhibits and unused material on a scale never previously encountered in the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, and possibly within police forces throughout UK. It culminated in 29 people being charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the Legal Aid Board (now known as the Legal Services Commission).

The enquiry has so far resulted in 26 people appearing in a series of six hearings heard at Bristol Crown Court between May 2000 and May 2004, before His Honour Judge David Smith QC.

During the first of these trials H.H. Judge Smith made an order prohibiting media reporting of the proceedings until all trials were concluded. This was to avoid publicity from one trial prejudicing later trials founded on similar facts.

The final case has now concluded, with 22 of those charged either having pleaded guilty or been convicted. Sentences have varied from seven years imprisonment for the senior partner, Timothy Morgan Robinson, to three months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for Claire Cox, a fee-earning clerk.

The media embargo was lifted on October 29 and this package has been prepared to provide information on the many aspects of the enquiry.

For ease of reference the pack has been subdivided into two sections - section one giving an overview of the enquiry and subsequent trials, while more specific information is contained in section two.
(1)

******* SUMMARY *******

The investigation concerned a firm of solicitors called Robinsonís.

Mr Timothy Morgan Robinson founded Robinsonís Solicitors in Cheltenham in the 1970s. In the late 1980s/early 1990s the practice expanded, with offices situated at:

1) Edinburgh Place, Cheltenham.
2) Barton Street, Gloucester.
3) Brighton Street, St Paulís, Bristol.
4) Greystoke Avenue, Southmead, Bristol.
5) Cricklade Road, Swindon.

At its peak, in 1993/1994, the company employed, in addition to administrative support staff, in excess of 50 fee earners, including solicitors and clerks.

The clerks and solicitors were paid a basic salary and then overtime based on the amount of chargeable hours they claimed, i.e. work that could be claimed from the Legal Aid Board for payment. Their overall performance dictated the quality of their company car and whether they were issued with personalised registration plates i.e. 4LAW, 7LAW.

Timothy Robinson proclaimed that the Legal Aid Board had once informed him, ďthat from the point of view of the number of fee earning staff and the revenue generated, Robinsonís is now the largest firm of solicitors involved in criminal legal aid work in England and WalesĒ.

This investigation was into alleged fraud committed by the fee earning employees and partners of Robinsonís Solicitors, who perpetrated the fraud by submitting false and inflated claims for time spent on legally aided work against the Legal Aid Fund.

The focus of the investigation was into the submission of vast numbers of bogus Green Forms, which were submitted to the Legal Aid Board. Green Forms were used to claim for short pieces of legal advice or assistance on any topic of English law.

Many of the Green Forms reflected fictitious work, the clients being encouraged to sign multiple blank Green Forms. If the work was genuine then the time allegedly spent in conducting the work was exaggerated. Some fee earners claimed that up to 50% of their Green Forms submitted to the Legal Aid Board were fictitious.

The investigation began in April 1993, following a complaint received by Cheltenham Police. The investigation was initially based at Police Headquarters in Cheltenham and moved to Stroud Police Station in November 1994. It was code named ďOperation AlisonĒ after a member of the investigation team.

Initially enquiries were made at the Legal Aid Board offices in Bristol and almost 100,000 Green Forms and Advice at Police Station Forms were recovered. Advice at Police Station Forms were completed for payment under the Legal Aid Scheme for advice given to persons in custody at police stations.

On January 15 1995 search warrants were executed on the home addresses of the senior partner, partners and employees, and at all the offices of Robinsonís.

Documentation with an approximate weight of 3.5 tonnes was seized. No arrests were made at this time. The material was initially examined by Independent Counsel, who were appointed by the Serious Fraud Office, in order to establish if any of the documentation was subject to legal professional privilege.

Over 1000 former Robinsonís clients were eventually contacted after the warrants were executed in order to assess the authenticity of the Green Forms submitted to the Legal Aid Board by the solicitors and fee-earning clerks and just over 3000 witness statements were obtained.

Following forensic examination of the Green Forms by officers of the Gloucestershire Constabulary just under 15,000 were sent to the Forensic Science Service for expert examination using the Electro-Static Detection Apparatus system (ESDA). This was the largest ESDA submission dealt with by the Forensic Science Service in legal history.

Examination of the documentation recovered from the offices and home addresses revealed that Robinsonís induced its employees into committing fraud by requiring them to record unattainable amounts of chargeable work, and by paying generous overtime rates for chargeable work done outside office hours. There was a combination of pressure and inducement, which actively encouraged a fraudulent attitude towards Legal Aid claiming.

The SFO remained in charge of the entire investigation until 1997 when the prosecution split in two. The SFO continued to deal with the Cheltenham defendants - phase one of the enquiry. The Crown Prosecution Service dealt with those who worked at the remaining offices Ė phase two of the enquiry.

Police interviews were carried out between 1996 and 1998 with the suspects. Many suspects were interviewed more than once, after acquisition of the ESDA evidence, which indicated that multiple Green Forms were often signed together in batches of two or three, and then given different dates.

During 1998 and 1999 a total of 11 people in phase one and 18 people in phase two were charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the Legal Aid Board by: -

i) Making claims in respect of work that had not in fact been carried out.
ii) Duplicating claims for work carried out.
iii) Exaggerating time spent on work carried out, and
iv) Giving inaccurate details of clientís eligibility for Legal Aid.

Those charged included the senior partner, the majority of the partners and a large number of fee-earning clerks who had worked at Robinsonís for a significant length of time between 1991 and 1995.

The case against three of those charged was subsequently not pursued; another twenty-six people have appeared in a series of six trials heard by the same trial judge, His Honour Judge Smith QC, at Bristol Crown Court. Twenty-two have either pleaded guilty or were found guilty. Four were formally found not guilty.
(2)

******** THE ENQUIRY ********

The investigation began in April 1993 and was initially based at county police headquarters in Cheltenham. The enquiry moved to Stroud Police Station in November 1994, where two floors of the building were used to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of legal aid documents, witness statements, client files and other seized documents.

Two officers belonging to the Gloucestershire Constabulary Fraud Squad began the enquiry. As the scale of the fraud was revealed more resources were allocated to the enquiry which finally resulted in the involvement of officers from the three police forces: Gloucestershire, Avon & Somerset and Wiltshire.

On July 4 1994 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was consulted and they took on the supervision of the investigation and the prosecution of the case.

The 96,186 Green Forms and Advice at Police Station Report forms submitted by Robinsonís Solicitors to the Legal Aid Board between April 1989 and January 1995 were recovered. The front and back of all of these forms were scanned into a computer database so that they would be easily accessible for viewing and research. This resulting database contained some 192,372 images.

An initial examination of the Green Forms was carried out and a number were submitted to the Forensic Science Service for further forensic examination.

As a result of these initial investigations, an application was made to Bow Street Magistrates Court for thirty-eight warrants to search the thirty-three home addresses of the partners, the legal clerks and the five offices of Robinsonís Solicitors. These were executed on the 15th January 1995 and involved some 120 police officers and civilian employees from the three police forces.

No arrests were made at this time but 3.5 tonnes of documentation were seized and placed in 1,100 red coloured bags to denote that there might be some material that was subject to Legal Professional Privilege to which the police had no right of access.

Over the next 12 months independent barristers were engaged by the SFO to examine the contents of the red bags and identify the material that was subject to Legal Professional Privilege. Material that could be examined by the police was placed into 880 clear bags.

At the same time enquiries began with Robinsonsí clients to establish if the advice that appeared on the Green Forms had indeed been requested and received.

In addition to the material seized during the searches in January 1995, when the Bristol offices of Robinsonís Solicitors closed down in June 1996 a further 17.5 tonnes of documentation were voluntarily handed over to the police.

The police examined the contents of the clear bags and relevant evidential material was extracted and allocated a unique reference number by the Serious Fraud Office Documentary Control System. Databases were created to enable the material to be properly recorded and analysed.

In early 1995 the SFO began a series of interviews with the partners and employees of Robinsonís Solicitors, which continued into 1997. These were conducted under section two of the Criminal Justice Act 1987, which gives the SFO the power to compel a suspect to answer questions, furnish information and produce documentation. At the same time the SFO appointed a firm of accountants to investigate the accountancy aspect of the enquiry.

In November 1995, 14,838 Green Forms were submitted to the Forensic Science Service, where 2097 underwent expert examination utilising the Electro-Static Detection Apparatus (ESDA) system.

Indentations of clientís signatures were found on the Green Forms together with ink marks. The ink marks occurred when a clientís signature over-ran on to the form below. Both findings provided strong evidence that clients had signed more than one Green Form at a given time. Evidence of clientís forged signatures were also found.

Daily timesheets were submitted by the solicitors and fee-earning clerks along with their Green Forms to enable their salary to be calculated. These timesheets were examined against the Green Forms, the Advice at Police Station Forms and the times claimed on Criminal Legal Aid Bills, in order to ascertain if the times shown on the timesheets represented reasonable hours.

This examination revealed that the fee earners were in many cases purporting to work what could only be described as impossible hours, in many cases working more than 24 hours on a given day.

This led to the creation of schedules showing the chargeable time claimed from the Legal Aid Board by the fee earners over a day, a week and a month. These schedules were referred to as a DITLO (day in the life of), a WITLO (week in the life of) and a MITLO (month in the life of) and illustrated the impossible hours worked by some of the fee earners

Meanwhile teams of police officers were tracing and contacting over a thousand of Robinsonís former clients to ascertain if they had asked for and received the advice recorded on the Green Forms. This, together with other enquires, resulted in over 3000 statements being taken during the enquiry.

In 1997 it was decided that due to its size, complexity and for ease of prosecution the investigation was to be divided into two parts: -

1) Phase One Ė Led by the SFO - which dealt with those defendants from the Cheltenham office. Phase One was an SFO investigation in conjunction with Gloucestershire Constabulary.

2) Phase Two Ė Led by the CPS - which dealt with those offices situated in and Gloucester, Bristol and Swindon. Phase Two was a tri-force investigation, involving Gloucestershire, Avon & Somerset and Wiltshire.


During 1996-1998 a total of 32 persons were arrested and interviewed by teams of officers, many of these being further interviewed on more than one occasion. A total of 11 people in Phase One and 18 people in Phase Two were charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the Legal Aid Board. These included the majority of solicitors and clerks who had worked at Robinsonís for a significant length of time between 1991 and 1995.

The case against three of those charged was subsequently not pursued. The remaining twenty-six defendants appeared at Bristol Crown Court to answer the charge.

(3)

******* THE 27 DEFENDANTS*******


PAUL SIMON ANDREWS

Mr Andrews was born January 8 1970. He joined Robinsonís in October
1991, working at the St Pauls, Bristol, office. He had previously been
employed as a clerk by the Midland Bank and as an estates officer by Stroud
District Council

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: One year imprisonment.

HOWARD BANTON

Mr Banton was born October 6 1958. His previous employment included work at a barristerís chambers in Nottingham, followed by employment with the CPS, also in Nottingham, and subsequently with a firm of solicitors in Derby. He started work as a legal clerk with Robinsonís in Cheltenham on August 1 1988, being appointed a managing clerk in June 1992. He left Robinsonís employ on May 21 1995.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 4yrs Imprisonment.

TIMOTHY JOHN BRIGHT

Mr Bright was born on February 6 1956 and served as a police officer for
12 years before joining Robinsonís as a legal clerk in their Bristol office in 1993.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 6mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

CHARLOTTE BURGESS

Ms Burgess was born on September 8 1970. She worked for a firm of solicitors
in Gloucester before joining Robinsonís Cheltenham office in January 1989. She later moved to their office in Gloucester.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 8mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

CLAIRE LOUISE COX

Ms Cox was born on September 8 1970. In 1989 she started work at Robinsonís St Pauls office, in Bristol, as an office junior/filing clerk, leaving in1991 to take up a position in telephone sales. She became a self-employed clerk before rejoining the Robinsonís Southmead office, in Bristol, as a diary clerk in January 1993, later that year becoming a legal clerk.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 3mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

GERALD LESLIE DAVIES

Mr Davies was born on January 15 1964. He joined Robinsonís as a legal clerk
in September 1990 and worked from the Cheltenham office, transferring to the Southmead, Bristol, office in 1991. He left Robinsonís for a brief period between October 1992 and March 1993

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

SHARON LOUISE DEAN

Ms Dean was born September 4 1970 and was a probationary Police Constable
before joining Robinsonís Southmead, Bristol, office in March 1992. In August 1993 she
joined the Swindon office as managing clerk before leaving the company in
December 1994.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

RICHARD ROBERT HILL

Mr Hill was born on August 5 1949. He commenced his employment at Robinsonís in 1974. He later became managing clerk, a position he held until June 1992. He allegedly retired on ill health grounds from the company in November 1992.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 14mths Imprisonment.

MARGARET ANN LEITH

Ms Leith was born on July 30 1954. She had three periods of employment with Robinsonís: from 1984 to 1986 working part time, from 1988 to 1989/1990 and finally from May 29 1991 until February 18 1994 working as a legal clerk.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 8mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

CATHERINE SARAH LEWIS

Ms Lewis, who was also known by her married name of Towler, was born on October 22 1965. She joined Robinsonís in September 1989, working primarily at the Gloucester office until she left their employ in 1994.

Found Not Guilty.

DIANE MARY MORETON

Ms Moreton was born on August 21 1956 and has been a solicitor since 1980.She joined Robinsonís Gloucester office in February 1989 as a salaried partner and in May 1994 became an equity partner. She later ran, together with another partner, the Robinsonís office situated at Cricklade Road, Swindon.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 3yrs Imprisonment.

ALASDAIR BARLOW GORDON NICOL

Mr Nicol, Timothy Robinsonís brother in law, was born on October 3 1963. He joined Robinsonís Cheltenham office in 1987 acting as crown court clerk from late 1990.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

GEORGE KENNETH NIELD

Mr Nield was born on July 2 1944 and was a surveyor, later becoming a solicitorís clerk. In this capacity he was working in a Swindon solicitorís office when it was taken over by Robinsonís in 1993.

Crown Offered No Evidence, Formally discharged on 31 October 2003.

CHRISTINE NOBLE

Ms Noble was born on March 13 1965. She joined Robinsonís as a legal
clerk on September 1 1992 leaving on July 31 1994.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 12mths Imprisonment.

DAVID CHARLES PARKER

Mr Parker was born on February 26 1946 and has been a legal executive
all his working life. He joined Robinsonís Cheltenham office in 1988 then
moved to Gloucester as managing clerk, he also spent time from 1993 in the
Swindon office as area managing clerk

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 12mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

MARTIN PARKER

Mr Parker was born on June 10 1969 and was a probationary Police
Constable before he joined Robinsonís in 1993. He was attached to the
Southmead, Swindon and Cheltenham offices before he left in July 1995

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 12mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

KEITH PENGELLY

Mr Pengelly was born on June 21 1942. He trained as an accountant,
went into industry and was involved in recruiting for IT. He joined Robinsonís
as a legal clerk on September 28 1992.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 18mths Imprisonment.

ERROL PITTER

Mr Pitter was born on December 22 1963 and commenced work at
Robinsonís Cheltenham office in March 1992 leaving in November 1994.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 30mths Imprisonment.

PATRICK WILLIAM PRICE

Mr Price was born on June 16 1954. He had previously been a police
officer before he commenced employment with Robinsonís on 15th June 1992.
He left the company in August 1993.

Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 12mths Imprisonment.

DAWN PRYCE-JONES

Ms Pryce-Jones was born November 15 1963. She joined Robinsonís
in 1989, first working out of the Cheltenham office and later at Gloucester.

Found Not Guilty.

CLIVE RANDALL

Mr Randall was born on November 24 1944 and joined Robinsonís as a legal clerk on June 12 1989 having taken early retirement from the Gloucestershire
Constabulary, where he had worked as a police officer. He worked at both the Cheltenham and Southmead, Bristol, offices.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

TIMOTHY MORGAN ROBINSON

Mr Robinson was born on May 17 1944. He set himself up as a sole
practitioner in Cheltenham in 1972 under the trading name of Robinsonís.


Plea: Not Guilty. Sentence: 7yrs Imprisonment + £532,275 Confiscation Order with extra 4 years imprisonment (Consecutive) in default. Also ordered to pay £500,000 prosecution costs.

ARCHIBALD WYLEY ROSS

Mr Ross was born on January 9 1953 and was a police officer before he joined
Robinsonís in December 1990. He was initially attached to the Cheltenham
office but moved to Bristol in 1991, where in 1992 he was appointed deputy
managing clerk.

Crown offered no evidence, case lies on file.

TINA MARIE TONG

Ms Tong was born on February 13 1966. She joined Robinsonís St Pauls,
Bristol, office in July 1991.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

ANDREW MARTIN TREMLETT

Mr Tremlett was born on March 4 1960. He joined Robinsonís Cheltenham office in December 1988 having been an estate agent. He started as a legal clerk but in December 1990 became the managing clerk at Bristol.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs.

DAMON JAMES WHITLOW

Mr Whitlow was born on September 5 1970. He joined Robinsonís in May
1989, first being attached to the St Pauls office in Bristol, then at the
Southmead office, before returning to the St Pauls office in 1992 as deputy managing clerk.

Plea: Guilty. Sentence: 9mths Imprisonment Ė Suspended for 2yrs

STEPHEN LEE YOUNG

Mr Young was born on February 3 1959 and joined Robinsonís Gloucester
Office, as an assistant solicitor in November 1988. He became an equity partner in May 1994.

Found Not Guilty.

(4)

******** THE TRIALS ********


The size of the enquiry, the number of defendants and the vast amount of documentation that needed to be on hand at any one time posed real problems for the court system.

It was not logistically practical for all of the defendants to appear at one time so each phase had a series of trials with a varying number of defendants standing trial.

There was also the logistical problem of ensuring that the large number of client witnesses called in the six trials all appeared at court at the correct time and day.

Police officers were tasked with keeping in contact with witnesses and then transporting them, or arranging for their transport to court in good time to give their scheduled evidence.

All the cases were heard at Bristol Crown Court, in a courtroom that had been extensively altered to hold the trial. A computer system was also installed in the court to allow all participants in the trial to view images of documentation on dedicated screens.

The same trial judge, His Honour Judge Smith QC, has heard all six trials. The court sat Maxwell hours for both trials in phase one and also trials one and two in phase two. Maxwell hours involve the court only sitting in the mornings in order to allow for legal argument in the afternoons.

Those convicted by a jury have been given custodial sentences varying according to their position at Robinsonís. Those who pleaded guilty, unless very heavily implicated, have received suspended sentences.


PHASE I


In May 2000 the first of the trials in phase one commenced. The prosecution team was lead by Ian Glen QC, with Timothy Spencer and Andrew Macfarlane. Mr Glen and Mr Macfarlane were both from Guildhall Chambers in Bristol and Mr Spencer was from 7 Bedford Row Chambers, London. This trial was concluded January 2001.

The second trial commenced in February 2001, concluding in July 2001.

The following chart shows those defendants who pleaded guilty and those appearing in each trial, along with the sentence each received.

Defendant

Plea

Trial

Sentence

BANTON,

Howard

Not Guilty

Two

4yrs Imprisonment

DAVIES,

Gerald

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

HILL,

Richard

Guilty

 

14mths Imprisonment

LEITH,

Margaret

Guilty

 

8mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

NOBLE,

Christine

Not Guilty

Two

12mths Imprisonment

PENGELLY,

Keith

Not Guilty

Two

18mths Imprisonment

PITTER,

Errol

Not Guilty

One

30mths Imprisonment

PRICE,

Patrick

Not Guilty

One

12mths Imprisonment

RANDALL,

Clive

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

ROBINSON, Timothy

Not Guilty

One

7yrs Imprisonment  + £532,275 Confiscation Order with extra 4 years imprisonment (Consecutive) in default. Also to pay £500,000 prosecution costs.

PHASE II


In September 2001 the first of the four trials under phase two commenced, with a new prosecution team led by Timothy Barnes QC together with David Matthew and William Redgrave, of 7 Bedford Row Chambers, in London. This trial concluded in August 2002.

The second trial concluded in August 2003.

The third trial began in November 2003 and concluded in February 2004.

The fourth trial began in March 2004.

The below chart shows those defendants who pleaded guilty and those appearing in each trial, along with the sentence each received.
 

Defendant

Plea

Trial

Result

ANDREWS, Paul

Not Guilty

  Three

One year Imprisonment

BRIGHT, Timothy 

Guilty

 

6mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

BURGESS, Charlotte

Guilty

 

8mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

COX,

Claire

Guilty

 

3mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

DEAN, Sharon

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

MORETON, Diane

Not Guilty

  Two

3yrs Imprisonment

NICOL, Alasdair

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

PARKER, David

Guilty

 

12mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs 

PARKER, Martin

Guilty

 

12mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

ROSS, Archie 

Not Guilty

  Four

 Crown offered no evidence, case lies on file

TONG,

Tina 

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

TREMLETT, Andrew

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs

WHITLOW, Damon 

Guilty

 

9mths Imprisonment-Suspended for 2yrs


(5)

******** THE APPEALS ********

On October 28, 29, and 30, 2002 Lord Justice Pill, Mr Justice Keith and Sir Richard Tucker, sitting at The Court of Appeal, London, heard Mr Robinsonís appeal against his conviction for Conspiracy to Defraud the Legal Aid Board.

The submission was that during the course of the trial there were two occasions when information received revealed a ďpredetermination of guilt and a proselytising attitudeĒ by certain members of the jury, i.e. that during the trial certain jury members had already made up their minds as to his guilt and were attempting to convert other jury members to this view. It was submitted that in view of this the trial judge should have subsequently discharged the jury.

The Appeal Court, after considering the submissions, ruled that the trial judge acted correctly and that his judgement was the correct one in the circumstances.

It was also submitted by Robinsonís defence counsel that a lack of details concerning one of the witnesses precluded a proper cross-examination of that witness and that had such detail been put to him, his credibility would have been further weakened. He also submitted that comments made concerning this witness during the trial judgeís summing up, was prejudicial to the appellant.

The Appeal Court ruled that ďhaving regard to the scope of the admissions made by the prosecution, the defence in our judgement was not prejudicedĒ. It further stated that in his summing up ďthe judge dealt entirely fairly with [the witnesses] evidence, along with that of the appellant. Points made on both sides were set outĒ and that comments made during the summing up concerning the witness ďcannot in our judgement have prejudiced or influenced the juryís considerationĒ of the witnesses evidence.

On October 30 2002 Robinson appealed against his sentence on the grounds that ďthe sentence was manifestly excessive having regard to the utter ruin and devastation of the applicant consequent upon his conviction, to his personal circumstances, including his poor health, to the delay which occurred between offence and sentence.Ē

The Appeal Court stated, ďWe agree with the judge (His Honour Judge Smith) that it is very understandable why it took so long for a successful prosecution to be brought. It took a considerable time to unravel the web of deceit in which the applicant was involved and significant weight cannot be given to this factor. We agree with the judgeís analysis of the seriousness of this offence and the sentence imposed. Giving full recognition to the mitigation relied on, it was an appropriate sentence and not manifestly excessive.Ē


The application for leave to appeal was refused. Mr Robinson was ordered to pay costs.


SECTION TWO

(1)

******** HUMAN RESOURCES ********


The nature of the enquiry required a continuing, although variable, commitment of personnel by the three police forces involved. While a nucleus of officers was attached to the enquiry on a full time basis, additional personnel had to be utilised during those times when this level of staffing was not sufficient to meet the demands of the enquiry.

Police officers were required to fill various roles within the enquiry. Teams of officers were involved in tracing witnesses and obtaining statements, others were involved in the examination of the various documentation and the preparation of case papers, while other teams were involved in the disclosure of material to the various defence teams.

When the court was sitting a team of officers was permanently required at court, dealing with requests from both the prosecution and defence teams. Other officers were concerned with the task of contacting witnesses and arranging their attendance at court at the correct time and day.

The graph on the following page shows the maximum number of officers involved in the enquiry on a yearly basis. This does not include those officers who were involved in ad hoc enquiries requested by the permanent Alison staff.
 

(2)

******** DOCUMENTATION ********


The enquiry into the criminal activities of Robinsonís Solicitors necessitated the examination and cataloguing of a vast amount of material. This was initially done over a 12-month period by independent barristers. They were tasked to ascertain the material, which was the subject of legal professional privilege. The non privileged material was then examined by police officers to ascertain what was relevant and what further enquiries would be required.
 

Details

Amount

Comments

 

 

 

Total material from Robinsonís

21 tonnes

 

 

 

 

Material given a unique identification

47081

Each unique identification may contain numerous sheets of paper

 

 

 

Client files

8346

A file may consist of a drawer of manila folders, each containing numerous pieces of documentation

 

 

 

Material received from L.A.B.

102,364

Resulted in 192,442 images on data base

 

 

 

Statements

Over 3000

 

 

 

 

Prosecution case files for court

204,400 sheets (approx)

Contained in 511 lever arch files

 

 

 

Photocopies produced

In excess of 1,200,000

 

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