UKBA/HMRC stop 2 people. Neither person stopped knows each other, neither person has a criminal record or has ever been stopped before. Both have jobs, homes and ID as well as their passport to show their name and address.One is carrying tobacco (legal product) for personal use, the other is carrying drugs (illegal product) for personal use. Both will have their 'goods' seized. The one carrying drugs has commited a criminal offence, the one carrying tobacco has commited no criminal offence. The person with the drugs will be interviewed under criminal procedures and the one carrying tobacco will be interviewed under civil procedures.
The person carrying drugs
Person will be taken to an interview room where they have the following rights along with openess and transparency
- See a solicitor free of charge
- Have someone told where you are
- Read a copy of the Codes of practice, which explains the procedures the interview should follow in such circumstances
- You should be given a written note of these rights and cautioned
The outcome for the persons offence of carrying drugs for personal use will almost certainly be a caution (which the person has to agree to) or the person will be charged (or not) and then released on bail. lf charged, you are innocent until proven guilty. This will be in court where your guilt has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The drugs will be seized and kept as evidence.
The person carrying tobacco
You will be questioned in most cases in full public view. There will be no openess and transparency in the interview.
You have no right to a solictor free of charge.
You won't be read a copy of the Codes of practice, which explains the procedures the UKBA/HMRC should follow in such circumstances.
You will not be given a written note of these rights or cautioned but you will be read the Commerciality Statement .“You have excise goods in your possession (control) which appear not to have borne UK duty. Goods may be held without payment of duty providing they have been acquired and are held for your own use. I suspect that you may be holding goods for a commercial purpose and not for your own use. I intend to ask you some questions to establish whether these goods are held for a commercial purpose. If no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming or if you do not stay for questioning it may lead me to conclude that the goods are not held for your own use but held for a commercial purpose and your goods (and vehicle) may be seized as liable to forfeiture.You are not under arrest and are free to leave at any time. Do you understand?”
... and so it begins
Documented incidents show there are no clear rules which govern the way in which a UKBA/HMRC officer can question a person, and are designed to place unfair pressure on a suspect. There won't be regular breaks for food etc, and one doubts you will see an interview room whether it's clean and properly heated or not. The UKBA/HMRC do follow a line of questioning which puts unreasonable pressure on the suspect. Someone who is deaf or has difficulty in understanding English should be given a signer or an interpreter.(really? look here)
The interview won't be recorded and the only record of the interview will be the UKBA/HMRC officers notebook that they will paraphrase this person's with the tobacco answers and then they will try and coerce this person to corroborate said notebook as a true and factual accont of the interview. ln other words sign a confession. This person will not get a copy of this notebook.
The tobacco goods are then seized and in all probability will be destroyed before this person with the tobacco will be able to get an appeal heard. This person will now have been found guilty to all intents and purposes as a smuggler (smuggling is a criminal offence) by default, by the UKBA/HMRC officer using the balance of probabilities (their interpretation 'balance') and not beyond reasonable doubt. This person's guilt as a smuggler is then recorded for future use against them by UKBA/HMRC.
Finally the UKBA/HMRC officer may then try to disuade this person from appealing by telling them that they have no chance of winning and will be liable for costs of 2500 pounds! Unless this person has the guts to fight this injustice, they will remain guilty. They have just 28 days to decide to fight this injustice ... and they'll probably have to fight it by themselves for they have no free legal team to help them ... unlike our person with the drugs!
What comes next for our person now without their tobacco and the person now without their drugs is just as biased ... and that's in our courts!
These are the "Scales of Justice" that the UKBA/HMRC use ... with a size 12 boot on the 'guilty' side but hey 'It's not an issue' to our etsteemed hypocritical representatives of "Freedom and Justice" <please read small print for exceptions..
Smokers are on their own ... period!