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UK Customs Department Loses Prosecution Powers

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

10 December 2003


It has emerged that the UK's Customs and Excise department is to be stripped of its powers to prosecute at the end of 2004, when this function will be taken over by a newly created independent body, the Customs and Excise Prosecution Office (CEPO).

According to UK media reports, the move comes as the result of recommendations contained in a report compiled by High Court judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, which was sparked by the collapse of the London City Bond warehouse prosecutions at Liverpool's Crown Court in November of last year.

The report suggested that, in the wake of serious technical errors committed by the department which led to the withdrawal of claims against many defendants, the prosecution function would be better transferred to an independent body.

The CEPO will answer to Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, who recently told Lawyer News that:

"Mr Justice Butterfield said that whilst there has been a significant improvement in the prosecutions office, there is more to be done if Customs and Excise prosecutions are to regain their reputation for excellence."

He continued: "Rebuilding that reputation through concrete improvements to the prosecution process is the key challenge for CEPO in the coming years."


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