Terence William Norman v The Crown Court at Chelmsford

Court:Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Docket Number:Case No: CO/2786/2019
Judge:Lord Justice Dingemans, Mr Justice William Davis
Judgment Date:18 Dec 2020
Jurisdiction:England & Wales
Neutral Citation:[2020] EWHC 3456 (Admin)

[2020] EWHC 3456 (Admin)





Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL



Mr Justice William Davis

Case No: CO/2786/2019

The Queen (on the application of

(1) Terence William Norman
(2) Georgia Lee Norman
(3) Terence Charles Norman)
(1) The Crown Court at Chelmsford
(2) The Chief Constable of Essex Police

Andrew Trollope QC and Alexander dos Santos (instructed by Paul Martin & Co Solicitors) for the First and Second Claimants

The First Defendant did not appear and was not represented

Andrew Bird (instructed by Essex Police Legal Department) for the Second Defendant

Hearing date: 1 December 2020

Approved Judgment

Lord Justice Dingemans

Introduction and issues


This is the hearing of a claim for declarations that the arrests on 16 April 2019 of the First Claimant, Terence William Norman (“Mr Norman”), and the Second Claimant, Georgia Lee Norman (“Mrs Norman”), were unlawful and a claim for damages made against the Chief Constable of Essex Police (“the Chief Constable”). Damages have been agreed, subject to liability, at £3,500 for Mr Norman and £3,000 for Mrs Norman.


It is now common ground, and should be stated at the outset, that Mr and Mrs Norman were not guilty of the offences of fraud and money laundering for which they were arrested and they were not prosecuted for those offences. They were and are persons of good character.


However the Chief Constable maintains that his officers, for whom he is liable, had at the material time reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr and Mrs Norman had committed the offences of fraud and money laundering and had reasonable grounds for believing that it was necessary to arrest Mr and Mrs Norman so that the arrests were lawful pursuant to the provisions of section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (“PACE”). Mr and Mrs Norman say there were never any reasonable grounds for suspecting that they had committed the offences of fraud and money laundering, and that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that it was necessary to arrest them, meaning that the arrests were unlawful.


At the outset of the hearing on 1 December 2020 there was an application to adjourn and transfer the claim made by Mr and Mrs Norman to the County Court. We refused the application to adjourn for reasons that I have set out below but, as appears from those reasons, that was because Mr and Mrs Norman had earlier obtained an order from the High Court directing that the claim should be heard in a Divisional Court of the Administrative Court, and the application to adjourn was made late in the day. As is made clear in the reasons set out below the issues raised by Mr and Mrs Norman's claim are important issues for Mr and Mrs Norman and the Chief Constable and both parties are entitled to a fair hearing of the issues. However in my judgment neither the value of the claim nor the issues raised by the claim merited a hearing either in the High Court or Divisional Court, and there were many procedural disadvantages for both Mr and Mrs Norman and the Chief Constable in having the hearing in the Divisional Court. This Court's refusal to transfer these proceedings to the County Court should not be taken as any encouragement for keeping claims for damages of this sort in the High Court.


An application to rely on witness statements was also made by Mr and Mrs Norman at the outset of the hearing. We agreed to look at the witness statements for the purpose of the hearing, but reserved our decision on formal admissibility to this judgment, and address this below.

Factual background


There was much common ground about the relevant factual background which appears from the statement of facts dated 12 July 2019, the summary grounds of part-concession and part-resistance of the Chief Constable dated 9 August 2019, and the reply by Mr and Mrs Norman to the summary grounds dated 25 September 2019. Further information is set out in the Detailed grounds of resistance of the Chief Constable to the claims for wrongful arrest dated 16 March 2020.


In February 2019 Essex police received intelligence suggesting that Mr Norman was running an investment scheme called “Blue Tractor” which was a vehicle for fraud. In addition on 4 September 2018 a financial institution had reported to a law enforcement agency that concerns had been raised about a deposit of cash made into a bank account by one person for a friend to purchase shares in Blue Tractor (UK) Limited (“Blue Tractor UK”). Essex police made inquiries which showed that Mr Norman had not been employed since 2008 and had paid no income tax since 2008. Bank accounts associated with him and his companies had a turnover in excess of £1 million. A personal bank account had a balance of £202,000 and a turnover in the period February 2018 to February 2019 of £640,000. Companies controlled by Mr Norman were Blue Tractor Europe Limited (“Blue Tractor Europe”) which was dormant, and Global Financial Solutions Limited (“GFS”), Blue Tractor UK and Towergate Consultants Limited (“Towergate”) which had no turnover. Vehicles with an estimated value of £1 million were registered at Mr and Mrs Norman's home which was called Ropers Farm situated in Essex. Ropers Farm was a substantial property with no mortgage. A website for Blue Tractor UK and other internet reports suggested that financial algorithms were being developed.


Detective Sergeant Adler (now Detective Inspector Adler) (“DI Adler”) decided to apply for search warrants. On 19 March 2019 an application was made to Her Honour Judge Lynch QC in the Crown Court at Chelmsford for a search warrant under the special procedure in schedule 1 of PACE. The warrant was issued but it was noticed that there was an error in the address for Ropers Farm and a new warrant was applied for and granted on 25 March 2019 by HHJ Lynch.


On 27 March 2019 DI Adler set out in a policy decision dated 27 March 2019 a decision to arrest “all adult members of family present at Ropers Farm on the day of the warrant for the money laundering offences”. The rationale was recorded as:

“there is sufficient grounds to suggest that all adult members of the family [Mr and Mrs Norman, their adult sons and adult daughters] have benefitted from the offences. All live on the property and the vehicles are in their names. There are huge amounts of financial transactions through the various accounts and very little in the way of HMRC declarations, certainly not consistent with their wealth. So as not to prejudice the criminal investigation and allow them to collude prior to interview, I believe that it is justified to arrest and interview as soon as practicable which will be on the day. This will also ensure that the we can satisfactorily seize items subject to PACE conditions and that the criminal investigations can run side to side with any possible HMRC investigation”.


On 2 April 2019 an application was made to His Honour Judge Gratwicke for a fresh warrant under section 352 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“ POCA”). However the draft warrants had the wrong heading and he refused the application, and discharged the earlier warrants.


On 9 April 2019 successful applications were made for search and seizure warrants issued pursuant to section 352 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“ POCA”) in respect of two properties being: (1) Ropers Farm; and (2) offices at 4 Hadleigh Business Centre, 351 London Road, Benfleet, Essex (“the offices”) by the Crown Court at Chelmsford.


At some stage it was decided to arrest only Mr Norman on the execution of the warrants.

The arrests


The warrants were executed on 16 April 2019 at 7.30 am at Ropers Farm. DI Adler pressed the intercom on electric gates at the end of the drive at Ropers Farm. There was a delay and the intercom was answered and DI Adler reported that he had a warrant to search the premises. There was then a further delay of several minutes and the gates were opened. Mr and Mrs Norman's son was located in a bungalow and he was arrested. Mr Norman showed DI Adler around the house and opened a safe containing money and he was arrested at 0737 hours on suspicion of fraud and money-laundering. PC Bridge and DS Robson found carrier bags containing cash concealed in bushes at the back of the garden. Footmarks were said to be noted in the dew on the lawn leading from the kitchen across the garden to the gate at the end of the garden near to the bushes. A pair of ladies' trainers were found which were wet and with grass cuttings, with the heels turned down which was said to suggest that they had been put on and taken off in a hurry. Mrs Norman was the only adult female who was up and seemed to have dressed hurriedly. DI Adler and DC O'Toole suspected that Mrs Norman had placed the bags of cash in the hedge to conceal them from police officers conducting the search. At 0910 hours Mrs Norman was arrested on suspicion of fraud and money-laundering.


Various documents, cash, jewellery, a piano and vehicles were seized. It was common ground that the seizure of the jewellery, piano and cash was not covered by the terms of the warrant. Mrs Norman made a complaint that she was advised to remove jewellery on arrest so that it could be safely left in the house, and it was then seized. About £100,000 in cash was found in the house and in the bushes.


Mr Norman was interviewed at the police station at 1328 hours. Mr and Mrs Norman's son was interviewed at the police station at 1701 hours. Mrs Norman was interviewed at the police station at 1828 hours.


Attempts were made to enforce the warrant at the offices. The offices were in fact the address of a firm of chartered accountants who provided accountancy...

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