The tide of public opinion should not influence law enforcement and justice, but experience suggests it can.
This was true of our client Richard Holden who was wrongly accused of sexual assault at a Christmas party. He was investigated by police operating under a ‘culture of belief’ in all sex complaints and then charged a short time after the #metoo campaign had led a string of sex-scandal allegations around Westminster.
As a Special Advisor to Sir Michael Fallon, our client was a tempting target and in a vulnerable position. Once charged the state brought to bear the full force of its experience and resources. A case was built using several detectives from a specialist serious rape team and the highest grade of prosecutor was selected to present the case. The state assembled a team used to working in murder, terrorism and serious rape.
While the state spent 18 months preparing for the trial it was clear that much vital evidence had been discarded and was left to us to retrieve, preserve and advance at trial.
Mark Troman acted for Mr Holden from the initial police interview through to the conclusion of the trial. Reams of digital evidence were recovered from several sources and over 25 witnesses interviewed to ensure the defence case was ready. Police disclosure prior to trial was inadequate and was challenged throughout. No document was left unread, every witness was contacted and every digital source considered.
It took the jury a little over 30 minutes to unanimously acquit our client and led the most senior judge at Southwark Crown Court to leave court with the remark that he “left court without a stain on his character”.
After the trial Mr Holden said:
“Mark was utterly unflappable and calm over the fifteen months of my case – the most difficult time of my life – including at my initial police station interview, which was incredibly reassuring. He dealt very calmly and professionally with an investigating officer who was difficult and obstructive, ensuring at all times that my concerns were addressed and he kept me fully abreast of developments. Mark was determined and tenacious in pursuing evidence, offering solutions but also at the same time willing to listen to my ideas, and flexibly adapted as the case unfolded over many months. Throughout, Mark maintained a clear strategic mindset that was always focused on achieving the right outcome. I cannot praise his skill and professionalism highly enough.”