The case against me was instigated by Licensing Officer Amanda. I had recently fallen out with Amanda. I had recently made three formal complaints against her, to her employer the Vale of Glamorgan Council. In over thirty years in the pet trade, this has been the only occasion, where animal welfare concerns, have ever been raised against me.
On the 20th June 2008 Amanda made an unannounced inspection of animals at my home (fully licensed premises). I was informed this was because she had received one complaint. She brought with her, the Council contracted Vet from a Cardiff company called Valley Vets Ltd. They found no cause for concern for any animal in my care. The Senior licensing officer present with Amanda, thanked me for my cooperation and everyone left.
The vet wrote a report of his visit, dated 24/06/08 he wrote:
‘Mr Crosby was polite and cooperative. I was granted access to the garage, the garden and a shed within the garden, as well as the kitchen and living room of the house.’
Two weeks later 4th July 2008, Amanda was back at my home with the same vet and a Police Constable. She served on me a warrant. This gave her the right, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to enter my home. Amanda seized hundreds of personal and business items. She also seized one hundred and fifty animals.
When I was eventually allowed access to my office, I was concerned though not surprised, that Amanda had seized my entire office contents. Every note I had on the walls literally everything. She left just a desk and a chair. This caused an immediate cessation to my Internet based business.
There was obviously no need for her to have sought a warrant, as their own vet had confirmed in his report, how willing I had been only two weeks earlier, in fully cooperating.
Amanda only sought the warrant, as it would give her the opportunity to remove anything she wanted to. By doing so she was fully aware her wilful action would cause an instant cessation to my business.
Bizarrely Amanda removed numerous boxes of my research material in the Lord Lucan and Ben Needham case. These could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered covered by the warrant she had obtained. A file she removed on Ben’s case also contained a DNA blood sample sent to me by a Detective working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
I had during the previous year, received the helpful services of Vale Solicitors. I had sought their legal advice, as I felt I was being subjected to frequent business harassment by Amanda. On one such occasion, I was on holiday in Spain. I received a telephone call from an employee Ryan who was caring for animals in my home in my absence. He informed me that Amanda was in my kitchen in my home!
It was my firm belief her aim was to put me out of business. By this time I had discovered documents, written by the Licensing Department at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, which made it very clear that they never wished to license me to operate a pet business from home. They licensed me, because they could find no reason not to issue my license to trade.
There are five main points which stand out in this bizarre case.
1. Why did my Defence solicitor, Vale Solicitors, fail to ask the Council if any contemporaneous notes or recordings, had been made of their inspection? That must surely be the first line of any Defence solicitor. Their website Criminal Law page states: ‘We believe that every case should be thoroughly investigated to achieve the best possible result for you.’
2. My Solicitor correctly sought the advice, of an independent Vet (Great Western Exotic Vets) about the summonses I faced. It is clear from the letter I received from this vet, that my Solicitor had not sent him for consideration, the statements written by the Vale of Glamorgan Council vet.
My Solicitor had been served these statements by the Council, so unlike the contemporaneous notes which he failed to seek disclosure of, the vet statements were in his possession. Had he sent these statements, as the Vet from Great Western Exotic Vets states, the Professional opinion he gave to my Solicitor, ‘could have made a difference to the opinion which I would express in a witness statement.’
Not guilty pleas were entered on the 23rd March 2009, to all the summonses the Vale of Glamorgan Council issued against me. It was the persistent advice from my solicitor, which made me change some pleas to guilty. He advised me, on the basis of the evidence, given against me by the Council vet, if the matter went to trial, I would be convicted and would most likely go to custody. I didn’t want to risk going to custody for something I was innocent of. I thought I could change my pleas at a later stage.
It wasn’t too difficult for Magistrate’s, at the sentencing hearing to question when I informed them, that despite my guilty plea, I would be seeking to appeal both my conviction and sentence. But nobody bothered to ask me, why I was planning to do this. In UK Courts everyday, the Justice system actively invites defendants to plead guilty, although many are not guilty. In return they receive a more lenient sentence. This system should surely be questioned.
3. When I subsequently asked Amanda in an email if any notes had been taken, at her inspection on the 20th June 2008, why did she state: ‘I confirm there were no written notes.’
4. When I attempted to sue the Vet, his solicitor Hill Dickinson sent me a letter dated 29 June 2011. Paragraph two of this letter clearly states: ‘We confirm that notes were taken at the inspections on the 20th June and 4th July 2008.’
5. The final point is this. I have for pushed for eight years, for a Criminal Investigation to be conducted against Amanda and the Council Vet. My allegation is that they did, Conspire to Pervert the Course of Justice.
On 15th December 2016, a Detective Richard working for South Wales Police finally obtained a copy of the ‘contemporaneous notes.’
Why has the vet’s solicitor Hill Dickinson stated to Detective Richard: ‘Mr Crosby has asked for these notes under the Data Protection Act but we have refused to disclose them. These are being disclosed to you, on a strictly confidential basis and are not for onward disclosure to Ian Crosby under any circumstances.
Why would Amanda need to lie about the existence of the ‘contemporaneous notes’? Why does the Council Vet’s solicitor, insist the notes must not be disclosed to me ‘under any circumstances.?’ What are they hiding?
None disclosure of documents in criminal proceedings is currently very much a topical issue.
My allegation has always been, what the Vet discovered on his visit (4th July 2008) and what he then wrote in his report five weeks later (written at the request of Amanda) dated 12th August 2008 was significantly different.
It allowed Amanda to summons me with the most serious of the summons that she was building against me, to justify her actions in removing substantial property from my home. Vale solicitors wrote the following in their notes. ‘What he needed to bear in mind was that the evidence principally lodged at the Court by the Council did not in fact result from execution of the warrant. The main evidence was that of the Council vet.’
Amanda was probably happy, to asserted her power in my home, by removing my entire office contents, and causing the cessation of my business.
I believe she was subsequently advised, her actions, in exceeding the recommendation of Section 7.5 and 7.7 of the Police And Criminal Evidence Act 1998, could give cause on my part, to make a substantial claim for damages, against the Vale of Glamorgan Council her employers, potentially running in to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
I continue to press for disclosure of the ‘contemporaneous notes.’
In order to legally comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 I have ‘redacted’ individuals full names.