R v Fitch & Turney (2020)

Articles

15/06/2020

On 12 June 2020, His Honour Judge Weekes at the Crown Court sitting at Canterbury sentenced two defendants for their parts in a scheme to secure over £2.7m in Government grant aid by submitting false documentation.

Simon Fitch, formerly of International Controlled Atmosphere Ltd, was sentenced for one count of making articles for use in fraud. He acted as project manager for numerous clients who sought to apply for Government funding under the Countryside Productivity Scheme, a fund administered by the Rural Payments Agency at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) intended to assist farmers in developing their businesses. A legitimate application under the Scheme requires three independent quotations from companies who can undertake the work for which the funding is sought, with financial preference given to the most cost-effective quotation. Simon Fitch created two false quotations, in the names of genuine companies, for each application and provided a third quotation from ICA, such that the ICA quotation was always the cheapest, with the intention that ICA would win the contract. In the course of the nine applications which were the subject of the prosecution, he created 18 false quotations to support applications for funding to a total value of £2.7m.

Robin Turney, of Robin Turney Ltd, acted as the applicants’ agent in seven of the nine applications. He was sentenced for knowingly furnishing false or misleading information by supplying the false quotations, contrary to regulation 16 of the Common Agricultural Policy (Control and Enforcement, Cross-Compliance, Scrutiny of Transactions and Appeals) Regulations 2014. He was found guilty after giving evidence at trial and, during sentencing, the judge found that he had known that the quotations were false and had lied to the jury.

The starting point for Simon Fitch’s sentence was found to be five and a half years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to two years and suspended, with a curfew condition, in light of exceptional mitigation.

Robin Turney was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, also suspended for two years, with a curfew condition. He must pay over £96,000 in costs and compensation and he was disqualified from being a company director for two years.

The case is understood to be the first occasion on which there has been a prosecution under regulation 16 of the 2014 Regulations. The offence requires that the accused knowingly or recklessly furnished false or misleading information and does not require an intention to commit or participate in a fraud.

James Thacker and William Dean prosecuted the case at a three-week trial in January 2020 and at the sentencing hearing on 11 and 12 June 2020. They were instructed by Gurminder Sanghera at the Serious Fraud Division of the Crown Prosecution Service.

 

Featured Counsel

James Thacker KC

Call 2001 | Silk 2024

William Dean

Call 2011

Latest News & Events

Consultation Paper Seeks Reform of Limitation Law in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

The Ministry of Justice has released a consultation paper seeking views on potential reforms to the law of limitation in child sexual abuse cases in England and Wales. Under the current law, child sexual abuse cases in civil courts are subject to the same three-year…

The Dekagram: 20th May 2024

We trust that our readers have been enjoying the Spring sunshine; the team have spent their time in the sun wisely, reading cases so you don’t have to. First we noted a decision which considers the interplay between English and Scottish guardianship; secondly we read…

The Dekagram: 13th May 2024

Last week brought the news that the Australian airline Qantas and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have agreed to resolve their dispute over cancelled flights by asking the court to impose a $100 million fine, together with an undertaking by the airline to pay…

Subscribe to our mailing list

Deka Chambers: 5 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1DR

© Deka Chambers 2024

Search

Portfolio Builder

Select the expertise that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Portfolio
Title Type CV Email

Remove All

Download


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)