Andrew Bird and Gemma Rose appear for the National Crime Agency ('the NCA') in an important case concerning Account Forfeiture Orders, the Azerbaijani Laundromat, and freedom of the press.
The case concerned an application by Martin Bentham, the Home Affairs Editor at The Evening Standard. At a hearing held in open court on 2 December 2019 a number of Account Freezing Orders ('AFO') were made under s.303Z3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
These orders related to accounts held in the names of X & Y. Mr Bentham applied for access to documents relied upon by the NCA at that hearing, citing the principles of open justice. The application was opposed by the respondents X & Y on the basis of the damage to their reputation should their names and financial details be published, given the implied links to money laundering.
A claim for judicial review of the decision to hold the hearing on 2 December 2019, in open court, is pending at the High Court. That decision will provide guidance on whether applications for AFO's should be held in public. The Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court granted access to redacted versions of the documents but restricted reporting of anything that would identify X &Y so as not to prejudice the outstanding judicial review.
The full judgment can be viewed and downloaded here.
The case was featured in the Evening Standard, which can be read in full here.
Andrew Bird is a specialist in white-collar crime, civil and criminal asset forfeiture, and civil and public law proceedings regarding the criminal process. Having prosecuted cases for the state at the highest level he now has a thriving practice in private prosecution cases, particularly those involving allegations of fraud. He has acted for both the private prosecutor and the defence.
Gemma Rose has experience of working with the National Crime Agency (NCA), she regularly advises on a wide range of data protection and operational matters, dealing with a variety of jurisdictions and statutory instruments. She has also appeared in applications for account forfeiture orders, including variations to the freezing orders already in place.