Benjamin Waidhofer

Benjamin Waidhofer successfully applies to stay an indictment alleging the offence running a county ‘drugs’ line on the grounds speciality and successfully persuades the court to reject a notice of ‘discontinuance’

On 9 March 2020, SF - then on licence - was informed that he was to be recalled to prison for inter alia operating an illegal drugs network. In light of that information, SF fled the jurisdiction and on 15 May 2020, the CPS authorised the charge of SF for two offences in relation to an agreement (conspiracy) to supply class A drugs.

On 12 June 2020, District Judge Michael Snow sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued a European Arrest Warrant in relation to Sean Fitton. The application explained that it related to information received from the police relating to the operation of an illegal drugs network and as a result, his extradition was sought because his licence had been revoked and he had been recalled to prison.

On 13 July 2020, SF was arrested in Ireland and on 27 January 2021, the Irish High Court ordered SF’s extradition to the United Kingdom.

On 16 February 2021, District Judge Blake sitting at the West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court issued a domestic warrant for SF’s arrest in relation to the actual drug matters which had triggered his recall.

SF returned to the UK on 27 January 2021 and on 20 April 2021, the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary commenced a prosecution for offences of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. A European Arrest Warrant for SF was issued by District Judge Calloway on 11 May 2021 covering the conduct which had been charged by the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary on 27 January 2021, despite the fact that by then SF was already within the UK and in custody within the UK.

In the course of a lengthy legal argument advanced before HHJ David Melville QC at Portsmouth Crown Court, Benjamin Waidhofer, instructed by Fadi Daoud at Lawrence & Co CDS LLP, asserted that the entire indictment had to be stayed as offending the protection provided by speciality which ensures that a person extradited to the UK is not dealt with in this jurisdiction for any offence other than which he has been extradited (see, for example, R v Seddon [2009] EWCA Crim 483, [2009] 2 Cr App R 9).

In an attempt to avoid judicial determination of those assertions, on 29 June 2021, the Crown Prosecution Service served a notice of discontinuance upon the defence and the court pursuant to section 23A of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

Discontinuance would purportedly have provided the Crown with an opportunity to reinstate the prosecution once the prosecution had obtained consent from the Irish authorities for the prosecution of the ‘new’ matters.

Benjamin Waidhofer was then called upon to explain that in light of the reasoning set out in R v Jessemey [2021] EWCA Crim 175, the purported notice of discontinuance was ‘misconceived’ as the Crown had no power to discontinue proceedings against SF following the decision to upload an indictment to the Crown Court Digital Case System.

On Monday 14 July 2021, the indictment against SF was stayed in its entirety by His Honour Judge David Melville QC at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Benjamin Waidhofer is frequently instructed in cases of considerable factual and legal complexity, particularly in relation to allegations of complex financial transactions and allegations of financial wrongdoing in both the civil and criminal arena.

Benjamin Waidhofer is available to advise and represent individuals and corporates alike both remotely and in person. He specialises in defending individuals and corporates in both civil and criminal cases involving substantial factual and legal complexity. Cases involving applications to stay the indictment, particularly as they relate to complex questions of fact and law, are precisely the type of case that he is frequently sought to advise upon. Any queries about this matter, or any other, ought to be addressed to .