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Enlightened modern practice

“GP accused of paedophilia by ‘fantasist’ loses fight for costs” reports the Times. I have put phrases from the following excerpt from the Times article that seemed particularly striking in bold type.

A retired GP accused by a “serial fantastist” of being part of a paedophile ring was told yesterday he would not be reimbursed for £94,000 in legal costs he incurred before the case collapsed.

Stephen Glascoe, from Cardiff, spent most of his savings preparing his defence. The woman who made unproven allegations against him and others has won £22,000 in “criminal injuries” compensation and has asked for more.

Several cases have collapsed in recent months after the Crown Prosecution Service ordered a review of evidence in all serious sexual offence allegations.

Charges against Dr Glascoe and four other men were dropped in January, two weeks before their trial was due to start, after concerns about the alleged victim’s evidence and her relationship with her therapist and the police officer who had led the investigation.

Dr Glascoe, 67, who was not entitled to legal aid because of his savings, spent more than £100,000 on lawyers and expert witnesses. He will receive only £7,280 from the Legal Aid Board and no contribution to the cost of his barrister.

The complainant received £22,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after contacting South Wales police in 2012 but later refused to co-operate with the investigation.

She spoke to police again in 2016 with more allegations about being abused at parties between the ages of three and 15. She said she had a pregnancy forcibly aborted and had been made to take part in torturing other children. She has applied for more compensation.

Christopher Clee, QC, applied at Cardiff crown court yesterday for Dr Glascoe to have all his costs reimbursed on the ground that the charges were the result of an “improper act or omission” by the prosecution. The prosecution should have been alerted, he said, to the poor credibility of the alleged victim by notes from 229 counselling sessions, which included “regression work”, and her improperly close relationship with the investigating detective.

Mr Clee said the notes made clear that the therapist “had exceeded any professional boundaries” and given the woman the idea that she had been raped by five men. Prosecutors had demanded to see the therapy notes before deciding whether to charge, but a senior police officer urged them to take a “victim-centric position”, he said.

Catherine Richards, for the prosecution, said the case was dropped over “considerable concern” about the detective, and because a jury might consider that there had been a “mirror of the undue influence” by the alleged victim on the officer and her therapist.

Judge Thomas Crowther attributed the collapse of the case to “dynamite” evidence that the complainant had lied about an Amazon package she claimed had been ordered by her abusers.

The judge dismissed the application for Dr Glascoe’s costs, saying he would have to prove that no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to bring charges. The decision had been “in line with enlightened modern practice”, he said.

It was certainly in line with modern justice as practised by the Enlightened.

20 comments to Enlightened modern practice

  • Ian

    Whilst it’s clearly unacceptable for accusers to be paid money simply for making a complaint, I would also suggest it’s not appropriate for defendants automatically to have all their legal bills paid, the controversial nature of the case notwithstanding.

  • I would also suggest it’s not appropriate for defendants automatically to have all their legal bills paid

    I would disagree with that. I think not having the legal bills paid in such circumstances is outrageous.

  • Bruce

    Yet another stark reminder that The Process is the Punishment.

    And the longer the peasants (and doctors) put up with this, the worse it will get.


  • Confused Old Misfit

    The British Judiciary has not been covering itself with glory lately.

  • bobby b

    In a perfect world, I would repay all defendants who are not ultimately found guilty for all legal fees (at the standard rate, not the inflated fees of rockstar lawyers) and costs, plus some reasonable recompense for any time spent in custody.

    It’s unreasonable to think that law enforcement isn’t going to sweep up some innocent people – if they didn’t, I would wonder if they were being too conservative – but when they do, their legal expense ought to be borne by the general public simply as a law enforcement cost. Just as we don’t corral plumbers off the street to work on the police station plumbing for free but instead spread the cost of the plumber over the general public for whom the police work, we ought not stick the poor arrested innocent guy with the cost of fixing mistakes in policing.

    This guy likely still has the option of a private lawsuit against his fantasist accuser, but unless she’s rich, good luck with that.

  • Alisa

    Now what about the therapist and the officer?

  • Mr Ed

    Only the other day, a Claimant who misled a civil court in a compensation claim against the National Health Service was found to have committed contempt of court, and is now facing sentencing which could include a period of imprisonment. This power is rarely used but I see no reason in principle why the complainant in this case should not face similar action (an alternative to criminal prosecution for perverting the course of justice), and also those involved in pushing the case forward could usefully be brought into the firing line. He faces up to 2 years imprisonment (most likely concurrent, if at all) if so sentenced.

    Here’s what the Claimant in the case I mentioned is facing, pending any challenge that he may make to the findings:

    The High Court ruled that 14 allegations of contempt relating to false statements by Atwal had been proved. They included:
    Claiming he was unable to work as a DJ because of the loss of strength and dexterity in his hands
    Telling a specialist that he had lost the confidence to perform as a professional DJ and had to delegate to an assistant
    Telling a consultant it was impossible for him to do any lifting that was part of the job of a courier driver
    Telling a care expert that he was unemployed
    Saying in a witness statement that he was unable to carry heavy bags
    Asserting that he needed ongoing physical and psychological support
    The case is believed to be the first time an NHS trust has brought contempt proceedings against someone for making a dishonestly inflated medical negligence claim.
    Atwal is due to be sentenced on 1 June unless he can bring a successful challenge against the ruling.
    The maximum sentence for contempt is two years imprisonment.

    Of course, those involved in the wrong in this case should, as a matter of fundamental justice, be joinly liable for the legal costs of the traduced accused. I can see however, where there is a ‘smoking gun’ and strong evidence that an offence was committed, that it might not always be just to pay costs to the acquitted, if they have brought reasonable suspicion upon themselves.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Wouldn’t the doctor have a case for libel, against both the accuser and their accomplices? Perversely he’d probably be entitled to legal aid now.

    This does not surprise me, as apparently our lords and masters can now decide who is allowed children now.

  • Yet again demonstrating that “The Punishment is the Process” with the added bonus of financial disincentives.

  • JohnW

    Transcendent philosophy in action.

  • On the one hand, I don’t want to read about how some London gang was repaid their very expensive legal fees after the case against them collapsed because the chief prosecution witness was found floating in the Thames.

    On the other hand, it seems Dr Glascoe had a good case for being repaid, preferable at least in part from the savings of the “senior police officer” who ordered the prosecutors to take a ‘victim-centric’ approach instead of an evidence-centric one.

    So the first question is, did the judge correctly state current UK law: that compensation is only due if “no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to bring charges”, and that the onus was on Dr Glasgoe to prove that?

    If we assume so – if we assume that charges were dropped in January and this ruling was made three months later as the end of a process where Dr Glasgoe (by paying his lawyers yet more?) tried to do that – then did the judge wrongly assess the known facts? For example, the instructions of the senior police officer certainly seem to have prevented a check that any reasonable prosecutor should have done.

  • Thailover

    The criminal here is her therapist. ” regression therapy” has been proved to be nothing more than implanting false memories. It’s nothing more than hypnosis, which is a state of enhanced suggestibility. Said regression can even regress back to before the patient is born, with them remembering a past life that never existed.

  • Paul Marks

    If someone is falsely accused of a crime it would seem logical to make the false accuser pay the legal costs of the person they falsely accused – as well as punishing the false accuser for the perjury. The reason this is not normally done is the “beyond all reasonable doubt” point.

    Essentially the legal system says “well your guilt has not been proved beyond all reasonable doubt – but you MAY have done it, so no money for your legal costs” – it is this kink that is the problem and it has no easy solution.

    If we moved to a “if they are not proved guilty they are proved INNOCENT” system the temptation would be to send more innocent people to prison. Essentially all innocent verdicts in the Common Law courts is really a “not proven” verdict – for all the guff about “no stain on your character”.

    An example is the O.J. Simpson case – Mr Simpson was likely to have committed two murders, indeed one of the families won civil damages against him (on the balance of probabilities of Civil Law), but in the criminal case it was found that there was “reasonable doubt”. Should Mr Simpson have received money to cover his legal costs?

    Still to return to this case – sue the false accuser for all the money and property she has, Civil Law standard of proof (balance of probability), so even if a charge of perjury can not be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, the false accuser is left in a cardboard box on the street by the Civil Law. Of course I do not believe that sleeping on the street should be allowed – for centuries the vagrancy laws dealt with this.

  • momo

    I have thought a lot about this over they years.

    The more correct solution is to move from a 2-state court outcome (guilty, not guilty) to a 3-state court outcome (guilty, not guilty, innocent).

    Guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    Innocent beyond a preponderance of the evidence

    And Not Guilty for anything in between.

    The defendant gets paid actual costs (rock star lawyer or not) by the state if they are found Innocent. Otherwise, no costs.

    The fees come out of the prosecutor’s budget, but are not paid personally. However, the legislature from which the prosecutor’s budget is derived can seek indemnity from the prosecutor personally if they wish. Prosecutors have absolute immunity as part of their bit of sovereign immunity. The legislature, as the sovereign, can remove that immunity by seeking indemnification.

    Also, you cannot dismiss charges unless the defendant agrees. This is to prevent overcharging. If the prosecutor brings a case, they should feel confident enough that the defendant isn’t innocent.


    Further, for cases where the person is wrongly convicted, if the prosecutors did know or should have known abut their innocence, the prosecutor serves day-for-day the same sentence as the wrongly convicted.

  • momo (April 30, 2018 at 11:47 pm), Scots law already has three verdicts: guilty, not guilty and not proven. The last verdict is the same as not guilty but voids double jeopardy: the accused can be tried again.

    It makes it too easy for the jury to punt: the evidence warrants a guilty verdict, you don’t want this guy released back on the street but hey, making a decision is scary – let’s push it off on some other jury (in fact of course, the second trial often does not happen). Although I have no knowledge of an example, I can imagine the reverse – choosing ‘not proven’ when being forced to decide would desirably have resulted in ‘not guilty’ – also occur.

    So, while there are cases when you would really like that verdict, there is a downside.

  • bobby b

    The only business of the state is taken care of by the single verdict choice of “proven” versus “not proven” (which is the same as “guilty” versus “not guilty.”)

    Some half-verdict – which can only mean “the state failed to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt but we still think he may have done it” – is offensive to our ideas of justice. It places the burden on us to prove our innocence.

    Either the state proves its case, or it doesn’t. There’s no in-between. There are no do-overs.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby is definitely right. “So we couldn’t convict him, so he escapes some legal form of punishment. No matter. He’s ruined anyway, in his reputation and quite possibly financially as well.* And after all, Everybody Knows he did it.”

    There are enough unjust incarcerations (or worse) already, if DNA evidence is to be believed (and its alleged 100% accuracy is questioned anyway). There are cases where it is seen many years after the conviction that in fact the guy was innocent, even when the ‘best evidence’ at the time was found to prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’

    Many of us, including Miss R (I notice) are 100% against the death penalty onaccounta men are fallible, things wildly against the odds do happen every day to every one of us (false conviction being one of them for some unfortunate souls), and the penalty not allowing of a do-over.


    The “required” assumption of innocence is absolutely correct. It is up to the accuser to show that there is no way that, given the evidence against him, the accused could possibly be innocent. “No way,” that is, short of the fantastical or the wholesale renunciation of the idea of “proof” in the real world.

    “Better to free ten guilty men than to falsely convict one innocent man.” Yes: on abstract grounds of justice, on the repugnance of the idea of punishing an innocent person, and especially because it opens the door to increasingly lower bars to be surmounted in providing “proof,” and finally to none at all.

    A person’s guilt or innocence becomes no longer the point at all. If the mob wants his head, it shall have it. If some bunch in power wants his head, it shall have it. If a figure with great legal or political power wants his head … it shall be his. On a platter.

    NO ONE is (relatively) safe, when lynching is the legal order of the day.


    *Of course, a lowlife like Slick Willy, and others of lesser “talent,” manage to end up with reputations which are refurbished to the naked eye, although the naked nose still detects the stench; and with a nicely fattened pocketbook. Heck, even dudes on Death Row sometimes manage the latter.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    In 2016 the UK Supreme Court extended the tort of malicious prosecution to the civil arena (following a Privy Council decision from 2014). So the doctor has a good basis for a malicious prosecution action against the cops, the prosecutor and the crazy lady.
    Discovery would be interesting… Probably take a couple of motions to get access to what would normally be turned over in a day!

  • Patrick Crozier

    Would the doctor always have been liable for costs in such a situation or have the rules changed in recent years?

  • Benaud

    Patrick. I stand to be corrected but costs work like this:

    The UK used to award actual costs for a successful defense. Recently they changed it to receiving the same costs as legal aid would pay if you were eligible for legal aid.

    Actual costs are less than what you paid, but tends to be about 80% of an assessment (done by the registrar) (called taxing).

    To get your bills paid you would need to get indemnity costs which are normally only available in civil cases after mediation, for costs from then to trail (this is to force settlement).

    I think it was the Blair govt. when they set up the Justice Dept. But not sure.