Friday, May 31, 2019

Doofus Of The Day #1,044

Today's award goes to the Crown Prosecution Service in England.

A multi-million-pound diamond scam case collapsed after it emerged that the prosecution’s star witness was a fantasist with no qualifications.

Between May 2011 and February 2015, more than 70 victims - mainly vulnerable pensioners - were conned into investing into one of five companies which invested in the diamond and carbon credit industries.

In total, they lost £3.5million [about US $4.4 million] and today at Southwark Crown Court eight defendants walked free from court after a judge was forced to deliver not guilty verdicts on multiple fraud charges.

The case collapsed following “chaotic” disclosure failures and after the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) key witness, Andrew Ager was discredited as “wholly misleading”.

Police officers have also confirmed that an allegation into his conduct has been referred to the National Crime Agency, while defence lawyers told The Telegraph that “the safety of the convictions in every previous carbon credits prosecution is now in question”.

. . .

Mr Ager, the CPS’s expert witness on the carbon credit trading market, admitted that he had no academic qualifications, had received no training nor had he attended any course on the carbon credit trade.

He said that could not remember if he had passed any A-levels and that he had never read the only book published on what was supposed to be his area of expertise. Instead, he claimed that he had learned “from his environment”.

. . .

Ager’s lack of qualifications only came to light after the defence made four applications to exclude his evidence. All four had been opposed by the prosecution.

There's more at the link.

Would someone please explain to me how the prosecution authorities could so utterly fail in their duty?  If they've used this "expert witness" in 50 to 70 other cases, as claimed, then every one of the convictions achieved through his testimony must now be overturned, and the cases re-tried, at ruinous expense - and that's not counting lawsuits for damages.

As for Mr. Ager himself, I think a fair and reasonable punishment would be to total up the sentences imposed in every case during which he testified, and make him do the lot - all the fines, all the jail time, without exception.  He'll have only himself to blame, after all.  (Frankly, if the person or persons in the Crown Prosecution Service who hired him were to share equally in that punishment, I think that might be entirely appropriate, too.)



urbane legend said...

I don't see the problem, as far as experts, anyway. If you read much of modern litigation, you find for every expert there is an expert with a counter opinion. All of these people have the same education background. Since everything related to " carbon whatever " is a fraud anyway, an expert with no expertise is a perfect fit.

I can see how the Crown would have a problem with it, though.

TheOtherSean said...

For decades, the US courts accepted the "expert testimony" from "experts" at the who were later found to have no actual scientific basis to their methods, and no actual reliability/replicability to their techniques when subjected to independent testing.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"if the person or persons in the Crown Prosecution Service who hired him were to share equally in that punishment"

Don't hold your breath. The State protects its own, unless protecting them puts higher officials at risk in some way.

"This is the State above the Law.
This is the State for the State alone!"

This is why governments should be kept poor, fragmented, and small. An efficient government is an authentic menace to life and limb.

Unknown said...

I'm conflicted on this one, as the reporting and reaction reeks of credentialism. I've found the dude's "linkedIn" profile, and while the top education is from an excellent 6th-form school, (US equivelant of high-school) he does have years of market experience in trading commodities, with recent positions over several years where he specialized in carbon-credit trading.

Here's a flyer touting his participation in a carbon-hedging conference in 2012:

I'm suspecting that the from the judge's perspective the problem was probably more the testimony-to-order and the effort to dissuade the oppositions expert from becoming involved, but "police expert is no expert" makes a much better press-release.

The defense law-firm brag-sheet lists (in addition to the lack of academic credentials the following problems with Mr Ager:
• he asserted that kept abreast of the carbon credits market, yet he admitted that he had not read any of the academic books on the subject such as the ones by their expert Dr. Frunza of the Sorbonne.
• a number of the assertions he had made to Dr. Frunza, during a joint experts meeting, were either wholly untrue or substantially inaccurate.
• He did not consider it his duty to bring facts to the court’s attention which might assist the defense.
• He had kept no record whatsoever of the material that he had been provided with by the police and no notes of his workings.
• He had lost some of the sensitive material he had been provided with by the police as he kept it in a cupboard under the stairs and the material had been damaged by a “leak”. He did, however, assure the court that he now had better storage facilities as he kept confidential material in a “locked box on his balcony”.

Also, part of the reason that the judge tossed the case was because the prosecution were aware that their diamond expert, a Mr. Peter Buckie, had been removed from a previous case for allegations of misconduct -- but they had not informed the defense of this until after his testimony and cross-examination.

Anyway, your award is to the CPS, and they screwed up in multiple ways on this fraud case.

HMS Defiant said...

CPS is one screwed up place. They try men for rape and we then find that the police withheld all exculpatory evidence that clearly shows that there was never any rape. They lie in court and as we see in this case, they make no attempt to ascertain the veracity of their chosen witnesses and it all doesn't matter in England because you can rape 10 thirteen year old kids a week and the judge will put you on remand for 3 months and call it a day. You can kill a trusting 5 year old and you only serve 3 years. It's a wicked place that will not confine its criminals so they just go out and do it over and over and over and over and then they return to the council estate the taxpayers gave them, a mere 13 room mansion for their 15 offspring and 3 wives and have dinner. What a shabby let down to a once great country.