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British Police Corruption Compromised my Trial, Says Ibori’s Lawyer

Mr Gohil seeks to quash conviction in the Ibori matter

He has filed an application for permission to re-open an appeal against his conviction on the ground that the earlier refusal of permission arose from proceedings which are, according to him, ‘ a  nullity’. 

Above photo: Bhadresh Gohil Tuesday, 26 April 2016 filed fresh appeal papers in the UK Court of Appeal seeking to quash his convictions in both the James Ibori and the VMobile cases. 

James Ibori, a former governor of one of Nigeria’s oil-producing states, was jailed in 2012 after he pleaded guilty in a UK court to 10 counts of money-laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

Bhadresh Gohil asks the Court to reconsider the application for permission to appeal on the  ground that the Court was materially misled by the Crown and that there was a corrupt relationship between Risc Management and the London Metropolitan Police;  In fact, that the Court proceeded to judgment on a false basis.

He also states that the serious misconduct of the Prosecution revealed in this case in relation both to disclosure and the general conduct of the case means that the Court cannot be satisfied that the prosecution were acting in accordance with their duties as ministers of justice.  Consequently, the Court cannot be satisfied of the integrity of either the proceedings or the application for permission process in  Operations Tureen and Operation Augen or of any of the information which it was invited to rely upon when refusing permission to appeal. 

According to court documents, “the exceptional circumstances justify the reopening of the application for permission in accordance with legal principles; moreover, that further information which has now come to light so undermines the integrity of the earlier application for permission to appeal that the Court can properly treat those proceedings as a nullity.”

Mr Gohil was convicted of money laundering, and prejudicing a money laundering investigation, and on 6th December 2010, he pleaded guilty to the charge.

On 8th April 2011, he was sentenced to a total of ten years’ imprisonment; three years and seven years’ to be served consecutively.

These convictions resulted from two police investigations by the Fraud Division of the Metropolitan Police, SCD6,  known as Operation Tureen and Operation Augen.  The officer in the case and disclosure officer in Operation Tureen was DC McDonald.  He was supervised by DS Radford and DI Gary Walters.  

Operation Tureen and Operation Augen were investigations into the financial activities of the former Nigerian politician, James Ibori, and those associated with him.  The Applicant was his solicitor, acting in relation to commercial transactions. 

It was the prosecution’s case on the Operation Tureen Indictment that Mr Gohil had carried out four specific financial transactions on behalf of Mr Ibori, with funds provided by Mr Ibori, and that in doing so, he laundered funds dishonestly obtained by Mr Ibori, in particular, funds stolen from the Delta State of Nigeria when Mr Ibori was its State Governor.  

As disclosed during the trial, the prosecutors sought to prove that Mr Gohil handled criminal property and must have known or suspected that they were criminal property and in relation to funds held in a particular bank account, purportedly the funds of Edward Shamutete, but which, the Crown contended, were in fact the funds of James Ibori. 

Elombah.com had reported that when Mr Ibori became aware of the police investigation into him, he engaged the services of a firm of solicitors called Speechly Bircham to advise him about the criminal investigation.  The two solicitors with conduct of his case were Ian Timlin, a partner in the firm, and Julie Thrower, a solicitor and Mr Timlin’s assistant.  

Speechly Bircham, in turn, engaged the services of a private investigation firm called Risc Management Ltd, who, almost exclusively, employed ex-police officers.  The chief executive of Risc Management Ltd was an individual called Keith Hunter, a former detective constable of the MPS.  However, the individual from Risc Management with most involvement in the Ibori case was a man called Clifford Knuckey, a former Detective Inspector of the MPS.  

Other former police officers who carried out work for Risc Management Ltd in the Ibori case included David Thompson and Duncan McKelvie.  Mr McKelvie had been convicted at Southwark Crown Court in 2006 of misconduct in a public office for supplying inside information about police investigations (whilst a serving officer) to criminal gangs in return for cash .   

After his convictions, on 31st October 2012, Mr Gohil lodged an appeal against his convictions.

The first Ground of Appeal against his conviction was that there had been a corrupt relationship between the officers investigating his case, in particular, DC McDonald and Risc Management Ltd.  This corrupt relationship involved the passing of information about the police investigation to Risc in return for cash payments and that Risc had also passed confidential information about the defence to the MPS.

According to Gohil, these Grounds applying to re-open the appeal proceedings will set out the following:

a. The evidence  demonstrating the corrupt relationship between Risc and the MPS, which infected the Operation Tureen and Operation Augen Indictments; 

b. The serious misconduct of the Crown in conducting a non-independent so-called “investigation” [Operation Tarbes], which was deliberately designed to find no evidence of police corruption and instead to prosecute the Applicant for making the allegations of corruption; 

c. The material non-disclosure of this evidence and misleading of the Court of Appeal with regard to the existence of the evidence of corruption at the application for permission stage; 

d. The serious misconduct of the Crown in general in relation to the prosecution of Operation Tarbes, in particular, seeking to prosecute the Applicant on a basis which could not forensically succeed on the evidence and the Crown’s deliberate manipulation of the Applicant’s bail position in order to circumvent the Custody Time Limits.  

In launching the present appeal, Mr Gohil posits that the points made above demonstrate exceptional circumstances of the kind required for the Court to re-open the application for permission to appeal.   

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