Court of Appeal ruling on Reasonable Lines of Enquiry [R v E 2018 EWCA 2426 (Crim)]
In the case at the centre of this judgment, a Crown Court judge stayed proceedings after ruling the failure to seize a mobile telephone belonging to one of the complainants meant the defendant could not have a fair trial.
The CPS appealed this ruling and the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the CPS, deciding that a fair trial would have been possible.
Importantly, the Court of Appeal has handed down guidelines which emphasise that seizing a phone is not automatically a reasonable line of enquiry in every case.
Sue Hemming, CPS Director of Legal Services, said: “The way personal data is used in criminal investigations is an issue of growing significance. The need to balance a huge increase in the availability of information with our duty to respect privacy and make sure all reasonable lines on inquiry are pursued is an important challenge.
“We welcome today’s judgment from the Court of Appeal which gives significant guidance on how these issues should be approached.
“We are encouraged that current CPS guidelines around the use of communications evidence and reasonable lines of enquiry have been endorsed.
“In particular, in relation to allegations of sexual offences the judgment echoes our existing guidance that mobile phones should not be examined as a matter of course, the decision is fact-specific in each and every case.”