SFO Blockbuster Case Rejected for Second Time

After seven days of legal submissions, Lord Justice Fulford has dismissed an application by the Serious Fraud Office for leave to prefer a voluntary bill of indictment against six defendants in respect of a commercial transaction worth £170 million.

This followed the collapse of the case in February when Mr Justice Hickinbottom dismissed a charge of conspiracy to defraud against five defendants. Another defendant, Richard Walters, who did not participate in the dismissal application also benefitted from the decision.

The sixth defendant, Leighton Humphreys, was represented by Jonathan Elystan Rees of Apex Chambers, led by John Charles Rees QC. They were instructed by Simon Evenden of De Maids solicitors.

The first Defendant, Eric Evans, was represented by Ben Douglas-Jones, door tenant at Apex Chambers, led by Patrick Harrington QC and John de Waal QC and instructed by Blackford Solicitors.

The Defendants, a retired consultant solicitor, Eric Evans, his professional partner, Alan Whiteley, and assistant solicitor, Frances Bodman, had set up a complex commercial transaction involving opencast mining sites and restoration obligations. A fifth defendant, Stephen Davies QC, had advised on the legality of the scheme. Central to the scheme was Celtic Energy Ltd, South Wales' most successful mining company, whose 100% shareholder, Richard Walters, and their finance director, Leighton Humphreys, were also charged.

Mr Evans and Mr Humphreys had always vehemently denied having done anything wrong and were indeed keen to show that their conduct was commercially adept.

The court's ruling was reported by the BBC, The Lawyer and Walesonline. The initial judgment given by Mr Justice Hickinbottom on dismissal is reported as R v Eric Evans & others [2014] 1 WLR 2817.