Fraud Trial Collapses After ‘Expert Witness’ Discredited
A multi-million pound fraud trial collapsed after an ‘expert’ witness who cut-and-pasted evidence was discredited.
‘Expert’ Andrew Ager had been hired by the prosecution in the trial of eight men accused of a £7 million carbon credit fraud. Carbon credits are a global scheme aimed at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The Crown’s case was that the defendants had been involved in selling these credits directly to investors in circumstances where the value of these credits and the health of a secondary market was exaggerated.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Ager did not have the relevant qualifications and Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith ruled the men should be cleared of the alleged offences.
In closing the case, the judge said: “Andrew Ager is not an expert of suitable calibre. He had little or no understanding of the duties of an expert.”
Ruth Harris, partner in the crime department of Hodge Jones & Allen, instructing Ben Newton and Kate O’Raghallaigh of Doughty Street Chambers, acted for one of eight defendants.
She said: “Mr Ager was concluded to have no academic qualifications and admitted not having read any books on the subject of carbon credits. He also failed to show any understanding of the strict rules experts are to abide by and ‘cut-and-paste’ a statement while misrepresenting how the statement came to be drawn up. In a telephone call with an expert instructed by one of the defendants, Mr Ager made claims about this investigation for which there was no support. Following this, the Crown took the view that they could not rely on his evidence in this case and the Judge commented that he should not be relied on in any future case.
This and other areas of concern relating to disclosure meant that the prosecution took the view, in the words of the judge, that the case was ‘fatally flawed and would have to be abandoned’. Our client had consistently denied these offences and has had to live through six years of this hanging over him. He is relieved that his name has finally been cleared and that he can now move on with his life”.
A complaint against Mr Ager has been referred by the Met Police to the National Crime Agency to investigate. Mr Ager’s evidence had been relied upon in over 20 trials leaving the safety of those convictions in doubt. Ruth Harris is already advising one person convicted on the basis of Mr Ager’s evidence. Anyone with concerns about their convictions should contact the firm.