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Category: Criminal Defence

Published: 28 November 2017

Legal Representation at Police Interviews

mportance of Representation at Police Stations
Never before has the absence of a solicitor highlighted the need for one to be present.  That’s certainly one view that can be taken in light of the recent opinion of Lady Scott in the case of HMA v. Jake Hawkins (2017) HCJ 79.
In this case the accused was charged on indictment with rape.  His defence raised a preliminary issue to object to the admissibility of a police interview of the accused.
During the hearing about the admissibility of the interview the court heard from the interviewing officer, DC Anderson.  The court were advised that the accused person spoke via telephone, of the case, to his solicitor prior to the interview.  On three separate occasions during the interview the accused was asked to reconsider the advice of his solicitor which was presumably to make no comment.  The explanation offered by DC Anderson about certain parts of the interview was that he was looking to extract any information to help the accused and refuted any suggestion that he was misleading the accused during the interview.  He denied attempting to “rubbish” the legal advice given to the accused.  The police officer felt that he had been straightforward at the interview and refused any notion that he had misled the accused at any time.
Lady Scott in her judgment, commented, “I did not find DC Anderson a credible witness.  On occasions he did not always directly answer questions and he shifted his position (for example as to whether he had misled the accused).  I found him evasive and in particular I found his denial that he sought to undermine the legal advice given, not credible.”
Interestingly in this case the court heard about the thought processes of the accused in the case.  He advised that he eventually decided not to make, “no comment” to the questions being put to him as it seemed wrong.  Furthermore, he felt that the police had their evidence and that his solicitor either didn’t care or didn’t know what he was doing.  He advised that the police made him feel these things.  He was asked, in cross examination, why he had not asked for a further consultation with solicitor and advised that he did not think he had a good lawyer and doubted that the lawyer could do anything for him in any event.  This was set against a background where DC Anderson had already told him that the lawyer was rubbish and didn’t know what was going on.
The evidence of the accused was ultimately accepted by the court on the very narrow issue of the fairness of the interview.
It is therefore vitally important that when you, or a loved one, is being interviewed by the police that the best legal advice is made available to them.  The examples like this case are thankfully few and far between.  It does, however, underline the importance of getting the best legal advice.  At Livingstone Brown we routinely and regularly attend police stations all over Scotland for the purposes of police station interviews such as the one that the accused underwent in this case.  Our advice is not always to make “no comment”.  Whilst it can be in an accused person’s interest to make no comment to the line of questioning put to them by the police officers, the police station interview can also be an opportunity to put forward a defence. 
For all of these reasons if you are required to attend a police station interview it is absolutely vital that you have the best possible lawyer for the job. 

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