A very senior criminal law QC has been suspended for a year over a decision not to disclose surveillance evidence which ultimately led to a conviction being overturned on appeal.
A Bar disciplinary tribunal found that Timothy Raggatt QC – who was called in 1972 and was head of chambers at 4 King’s Bench Walk for 19 years to 2020 – had damaged trust in the profession and recklessly misled the court while instructed as leading prosecution counsel in a case.
The tribunal found that Mr Raggatt decided, together with others in the prosecution team, and/or advised the Crown Prosecution Service not to disclose the existence of surveillance material which he knew, or ought to have known, supported the defendant’s alibi evidence and which undermined the evidence of one of the leading prosecution witnesses.
In a second finding, the tribunal said the QC told the court that a meeting could have taken place in Nottingham between the defendant and the witness at a particular time when he knew the surveillance material showed it was not possible.
He was given suspensions of 12 months and three months on each charge, to run concurrently.
Though the case is not identified, it would appear to be that of Conrad Jones, who was sentenced in 2007 to 12 years for perverting the course of justice, only to be quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2014 after surveillance material was disclosed in 2013.
Lord Justice Pitchford said: “We sought from Mr Raggatt QC an explanation as to the reason why it had taken six years for the appropriate admission to be made.
“We were informed that Mr Raggatt was aware of the surveillance material in late 2006 as a result of a consultation with junior counsel and the disclosure officer. He cannot now recall the extent of the detail known to him.
“He took the view that since the witness was imprecise in her recollection of the date and time of the meeting… the surveillance material was not relevant. We disagree profoundly.”
Pitchford LJ went on to describe it as “a lamentable failure of the prosecutor’s obligations”.
The court rejected the QC’s argument that the jury would still have convicted Mr Jones. “It is possible, if not probable, that the other evidence would have been sufficient to convict the appellant but we cannot conclude that would have been the conclusion of the jury.”
It was reported in 2016 that the Crown Prosecution Service paid Mr Jones more than £100,000 in compensation.
A spokesman for the Bar Standards Board said: “This case serves as a reminder to all practitioners about the need to meet their duties relating to disclosure. In the circumstances of this case, the tribunal found that Mr Raggatt’s conduct had been prejudicial to the interests of justice and had failed to assist the court.”
The tribunal’s decision is currently open to appeal. The full reasons will be published in the coming weeks.