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Manchester Crown Court dismiss cases brought by Animal Protection Services Published Date: 07/11/2021

HH Judge Nicholas Dean Q.C., Honorary Recorder of Manchester, has dismissed two cases brought by Animal Protection Services (APS), a private prosecutor, following serious concerns they "may have been involved in systematic fraud and in perverting the course of public justice."

APS is a charity whose objectives are said to be to promote humane behaviour towards animals and to prevent and suppress cruelty to animals, “…in particular by investigating allegations of animal cruelty and bringing prosecutions”, and in the first half of 2021 it was highly active in bringing prosecutions, mostly in the Magistrates’ Court, for offences relating, broadly, to animal (principally, dog) welfare.

In this case, APS brought cases against Ms Carrigan and Ms Brown. In each case the matter triable in the Crown Court was a count alleging the unlawful sale of pets contrary to Regulations 12 and 13 and Schedule 1, paragraph 9 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The only breach of the Regulations alleged was under paragraph 9, and in each case the breach was particularised by alleging that the defendant had carried on a business selling animals as pets and had “…falsely stated or otherwise (given) the false impression that the sale of those products…was lawful, whereas such sales were prohibited in the absence of a licence being issued to permit the sale of those animals as pets.

In a judgement consisting of 38 pages, HH Judge Nicholas Dean Q.C. dismissed the charges.  He commented that "So far as I am aware there is no case law interpreting paragraph 9 of the Regulations, and certainly no case law was cited to me to support Mr Parry’s interpretation of paragraph 9. This may not be a surprise, since it might be thought that paragraph 9’s meaning is plain and obvious, and plainly and obviously not the meaning attributed to it by Mr Parry.

"Another equally fundamental problem with the charge brought against Ms Carrigan and Ms Brown is that the offence charged under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 applies only to a “trader”. A “trader” means any person who in relation to a commercial practice is acting for purposes relating to his business, and anyone acting in the name of, or on behalf of a trader; so much is stated in the Regulation 2 – the Interpretation part of the Regulations."

He concluded his judgement by saying:

"The concern I have is that APS, sometimes in conjunction with Messrs. Parry and Welch, may have been involved in systematic fraud and in perverting the course of public justice. I have concerns that individuals may have pleaded guilty to offences in the Magistrates’ Court as a consequence of being misled by APS and possibly Messrs. Parry and Welch, or without scrutiny taking place of their actions (in terms of possible abuse of process).

"In all the circumstances, I intend to send a copy of this judgment (with the statements and exhibited material produced in the cases of Ms Carrigan and Ms Brown) and a copy of HH Judge Lloyd’s judgment, to the Attorney-General’s office, to Greater Manchester Police, to the Charities Commission and to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  It will be for those bodies to decide whether to investigate further."

Update (Feb 2024)

Having reviewed a complaint against  Parry & Welch solicitors the Solicitors Regulation Authority concluded that they would not be taking any further action against the solicitors involved. The SRA noted that there was insufficient evidence to support allegations of professional misconduct and the Firm’s actions “were as we would expect regarding the level of investigation undertaken by the Firm and consideration of the evidential and public interest tests".