The benefit of expert evidence
Our client was accused of Fraud in connection with her Employment Support Allowance (ESA), JSA, and Housing and Council Tax Benefit. The total loss was estimated at nearly £17,000. Our client denied the offences which centred on her failure to disclose income including a pension. In order to succeed the prosecution had to prove that our client acted dishonestly and knew that the income should have been disclosed.
We represented the client at her initial interview and had advised her to make no comment to the questions. She had complied but a summons was served and our client had to appear in Court. It was apparent to us that medical evidence including a psychological assessment would help our case. We applied to the Legal Aid Agency for authority to incur costs of over £1300 for a full report. This was granted. The report which we commissioned from reputable experts was so helpful that we were able to use it to persuade the Crown prosecution Service to discontinue the case.
This case shows the importance of seeking advice at an early stage from fraud experts such as ourselves. There was no direct evidence of dishonesty as the client had not answered questions in interview and with the help of expert evidence we were then able to persuade the CPS not to proceed. Had questions been answered it may have been a very different story.