Article about today’s VHCC case

Below article taken from Financial Times:-

Defendants in a high-profile insider-trading case could move to block their trial proceeding because of an abuse of process, a judge hearing their case said.

The six defendants in an insider-trading case brought by the UK’s financial watchdog face an “unprecedented” situation after four of the six remain without representation from barristers after cuts imposed by the government to the UK’s criminal legal aid budget.

HHJ Pegden QC, who is hearing the case, acknowledged that there could be “a time for an application in this case to stay the proceedings for an abuse of process because there cannot be a fair trial”, he said at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.
Earlier in the hearing he said the defendants were facing a “situation that is entirely unprecedented” and acknowledged that solicitors for the four defendants without barristers had made every effort to contact new counsel to take up their case.
Government plans to trim £220m from the criminal legal aid budget took effect in December and mean that fees paid to barristers – out of which expenses and VAT must be paid – will be cut by 30 per cent, particularly in those deemed “very high cost cases”, which generally include economic crime because of the complexity and the length of any trial.

The rate paid to Queen’s Counsel, the most senior barristers, for a full day of trial has been cut from £476 to £333.20 for the category of trial into which the insider-trading case falls. Junior barristers’ full-day rates have been cut from £252 to £176.40. Out of this rate barristers must pay their tax and expenses.

The cuts prompted a mass walkout by barristers earlier this month and prosecutors of other high-profile financial-crime cases have expressed concern that similar situations could affect their cases.

The barrister for the Financial Conduct Authority, which is prosecuting the insider-trading case, said the regulator is equally loath to bring a case against individuals who are unrepresented.

The FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, charged the defendants with insider-trading in the £3m case following high-profile dawn raids conducted in March 2010 as part of its biggest-ever investigation, codenamed Operation Tabernula.

One of the defendants, Iraj Parvizi, who traded on his own account, has entered a not-guilty plea. The others previously asked not to officially enter pleas until the question about counsel can be resolved.

Mr Parvizi’s co-defendants are Martyn Dodgson, a former Deutsche Bank managing director, Andrew Grant Harrison, a former managing director of Altium Capital, Andrew Hind, a director of Deskspace Offices and his former business partner Richard Baldwin, and Benjamin Anderson, who traded on his own account like Mr Parvizi.

Mr Justice Pegden said he would not adjourn their current trial date of September.

The FCA will charge another man, Julian Rifat,, as a result of the investigation. Mr Rifat will be called to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court at the end of January to face eight counts of insider trading, according to a copy of his summons filed at the court and seen by the Financial Times.

He is accused by the FCA of trading in shares, including those of Barclays and Volkswagen, on the basis of inside information between June and November 2009, according to the summons.

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