The collapse of the spot fixing prosecution against 13 footballers by the CPS following a ‘further review of evidence’ is indicative of the manner in which credibility of evidence, in particular witness evidence, is considered by the Court.
The CPS has said today that it considered substantial evidence, including the evidence of Mazher Mahmood (aka the Fake Sheikh) in reaching its conclusion not to pursue the case. It cited the recent collapse of the proceedings in the Tulisa case following the in reliability of Mr Mahmood’s evidence on the stand R v Tulisa & Coombes.
The CPS were probably seriously concerned that Mr Mahmood’s veracity would likely be challenged on the stand and his honesty impugned following the Tulisa trial collapse. This is something the CPS would not have been able to mitigate or protect against during the course of the trial, and would have played hugely in the minds of the jury. A long dark road that no matter how good the CPS advocate would have been it is unlikely they would have been able to turn the jury’s mind away from Mr Mahmood’s apparent lack of forthrightness. This in turn would have likely lead to a not guilty verdict and embarrassment all round for the CPS. Hence the CPS decision to halt matters in their tracks now.
The cessation of this high profile spot fixing prosecution, which apparently involved players from some of the highest echelons of English football, shows that the making of a witness statement and ones’ credibility on the stand, be it in civil or criminal proceedings can be a toxic stain that follows the maker from case to case and has a huge, potentially terminal impact, on litigation strategy.
Pinder Reaux & Associates Ltd