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Private Prosecution Case Studies

Stephen Lawrence’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence launched a private prosecution against Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and Neil Acourt in September 1994 after three years of inadequate police investigations.

In April 1996, following the private prosecution prosecution procedure, the murder trial commenced at the Old Bailey. However, the case collapsed due to the absence of any firm and sustainable evidence.

96 football fans were crushed to death and a further 766 injured in the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989. Following the tragedy, evidence came to light that the deaths resulted from grossly reckless actions by senior police officers.

The CPS declined to file involuntary manslaughter charges due to insufficient evidence. The victims families therefore took control of the proceedings to get justice by bringing a private prosecution against 2 senior police officers: Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield and Superintendent Bernard Murray who had given the order to open a gate to allow 100s more fans to enter the standing terraces which exacerbated the crush.

A judge approved the private prosecution moving forward to a jury trial in July 2000. Although Bernard Murray was acquitted and the jury unable to reach a verdict on David Duckenfield, the trial placed the Hillborough disaster firmly in public eye and represented the first time the case had been articulated in full. The families of the victims got their day in court.

Hillsborough campaigners finally got justice in April 2016 when jurors concluded that fans were not to blame for the dangerous situation and the police contributed to loss of lives by error or omission.

Business tycoon “King Con” Ketan Somaia was convicted in 2017 by the Court of Appeal following a private prosecution for fraudulently obtaining money transfers by deception.  Somaia was ordered to pay an over £20 million confiscation order and compensation orders of over £18 million and serve a custodial sentence of 16 years in what is the largest ever UK private prosecution brought by an individual.

The private prosecution was brought by Murli Mirchandani, an entrepreneur who Somaia had defrauded over £14 million from after promising him stakes in his business ventures.

The case is important as the judiciary strongly re-affirmed the rights of individual to bring a private prosecution and demonstrated the importance of private prosecutions as a useful tool when public prosecutors do not act.

Anton Vickerman, the owner of was convicted on two counts of conspiracy to defraud in June 2012 by Newcastle Crown Court and sentenced to 4 years in prison following a private prosecution brought by the anti-piracy lobby group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). The website directed users to illicit films and TV shows online.

The prosecution charges of conspiracy to facilitate copyright infringement succeeded after FACT gained vital evidence of Vickerman running the website after hiring private investigators.

In April 2017, Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) took up the case of privately prosecuting Gail Purcell, a motorist who struck a cyclist, Michael Mason, for causing death by careless driving.

This was the first private prosecution to be funded through crowdfunding which was brought after the Metropolitan Police failed to refer it to the CPS for advice on whether to charge the motorist.

Although the jury at the Old Bailey cleared the defendant of careless driving, family for the victim were reassured that the private prosecution was necessary as “the evidence was finally put to a jury, something that should have happened long ago” and given that the judge accepted that there was a case which the jury had to consider, demonstrates that there are lessons for public prosecutors to learn on whether to charge and investigate.

The Private Prosecution Service

The Private Prosecution Service [“PPS”] is a leading legal services provider that specialises in providing high quality legal advice to businesses, charities, governments, government organisations and individuals. Private prosecutions can be a powerful, speedy and clinical means of obtaining justice. Private prosecutions are our expertise.

Our expert team of prosecutors are experienced at advising on potential strategies and skilled at targeting the evidence needed to prove a conviction and are pride themselves on meticulous case management.

Our team of lawyers, which comprises a mixture of solicitors and barristers, provide a first class and comprehensive legal service to help you get justice.

For the best Private Prosecution Lawyers in London call 02071830529 or email