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Witnesses adrift without a paddle

New SFO interview guidance flies in the face of the right to legal representation, writes Brian Swan

25 July 2016

In June, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) issued new guidance for interviews conducted under section 2
of the Criminal Justice Act, which makes moves to exclude interviewees' lawyers unless the SFO deems that they will provide 'essential assistance
by way of legal advice or pastoral support'. The guidance in no way quantifies 'essential' and leaves the door open to rampant abuse of a central tenant of the criminal justice system - the right to legal representation.

Section 2 interviewees
are deprived of the ability to refuse to answer a question, unless providing the information would break legal professional privilege (LPP)
or in exceptional circumstances. Given the criminal liability that can be placed on an individual in these interviews, denying any interviewee legal representation would appear controversial.

The key change in procedure mean...

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