In the period Backlash has been monitoring implementation of the CJIA 2008 s63 a number of common threads can be discerned, from which some lessons can be learnt. To help minimise problems, bear in mind –
If the Police look like being involved
Be proactive, not reactive. Be very wary if the police tell you “they’d like a chat”. If you know why, consult a lawyer before any interview – often, by then under arrest – so that you are better prepared how to brief the duty solicitor, who is unlikely to be a specialist in sexual offences. In our opinion, solicitors sometimes misadvise clients because the CJIA is still relatively unknown, and very subjective.
Backlash is geared up to facilitate an initial telephone consultation at short notice with a solicitor who specialises in sexual offences, for which there is generally no charge. On at least one occasion this has taken place whilst the police were on the premises.
If your employer or the media get involved
This may happen with or without the police being involved, and is usually where privacy, particularly Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, is very relevant. You are on much stronger ground if you have not been doing anything “in public”. That can include the internet, if any member of the internet has casual access to witness whatever it was. A Dominatrix advertising for business is a classic example.
Again, at the earliest opportunity – when you first realise this might happen, not when you first meet employer or media – take expert advice. Backlash has been involved in Disciplinary and subsequently Employment Tribunal cases, and can advise accordingly, knowing who are specialists in this area.
We have also liaised with specialist privacy and media lawyers, and the Press Complaints Commission, where warning Editors in advance of publication can be effective, certainly in giving pause for thought. If a journalist calls, take their name and media outlet, but don’t feel obliged to respond to them until you’ve taken advice.