By Chris Lang
In May 2019, a carbon fraud trial collapsed in Southwark Crown Court, after the judge described the prosecution’s expert witness, Andrew Ager, as “not an expert of a suitable calibre”.
As a result, Steven Sulley and seven other men who had sold carbon credits to retail investors walked free. The defence counsel for Steven Sulley, Narita Bahra, argued that the convictions in previous cases where Ager had been an expert witness were “now in question”.
REDD-Monitor wrote about the collapse of the carbon trial in May 2019:
At the beginning of December 2020, at the Court of Appeal in London seven men appealed their convictions. On 3 February 2021, the Court of Appeal’s judgement was released.
In a post on the law firm 6KBW College Hill’s website, Simon Ray and Leila Gaafar write that, “Although the convictions were found to be safe, both Ager himself and the prosecution came in for stark criticism.”
Ray and Gaafar highlight three points of interest from the judgement:
- The Court noted that the appellants did not call a defence expert to challenge the substance of Ager’s evidence on key issues. Instead, they focussed on his conduct.
- The appeal “confirms the high, fact-sensitive bar for appealing against conviction in light of fresh evidence”. The Court of Appeal was critical of Ager and the prosecution’s behaviour, even describing it as “egregious”. But Ager’s behaviour did not “ultimately impact the safety of the jury’s finding”.
- The Court rejected the argument that Ager was not capable of giving expert evidence.
Abundant evidence of fraud
The Court found that in addition to Ager’s evidence, “there was abundant other evidence that all of these schemes were fraudulent”.
The seven men that appealed their convictions were James Francis Byrne, Dylan Creaven, Andrew Stephen Rowe, Sami Raja, Paul Moore, Michael Moore, and Haydon Driscoll.
There were four cases involving a series of companies: London Carbon Credit Company Limited, Henderson International Associates, Agon Energy Ltd, Lanyard Capital Ltd, Harman Royce Limited, Kendrick Zale Limited, and Burbank of London Ltd.
REDD-Monitor has written about several of these companies: