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Operation Cotton – Southwark Crown Court

The defendant is one of eight alleged to have been involved in a land banking fraud going back to 2008. Investment opportunities related to acquiring plots of undeveloped land in the expectation that these would be sold to major developers at a profit. Over £5 million in investors’ funds was alleged to have been obtained. Our client is charged with conspiracy to defraud and carrying on an unauthorised investment business contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The charges arose out of Operation Cotton, an FCA investigation into the activities of three land banking firms – Plott UK, European Property Investments (EPI) and Stirling. The case hit the headlines as it was also the first case to be affected by the response of the Bar to the MOJ decision to cut VHCC rates. Members of the Bar returned all VHCC cases following cuts in funding by the Legal Aid Agency. Alex Cameron QC was instructed to represent our client and successfully applied to stay these proceedings on the basis that the State’s actions, which had left these defendants unrepresented, amounted to an abuse of process and meant they could not have a fair trial. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision and Counsel were reinstructed.

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