Ragman wrote:Joking aside. is there no way of reporting such suspicions, who's remit would it fall into to investigate?
If the Bench are not satisfied with the financial details given on a means form, they can adjourn for a means enquiry. They can specify the financial evidence they want to see and can insist that the evidence be given on oath, thereby rendering an individual open to a charge of perjury. Audited business accounts can be asked for, along with personal and business bank statements, cheque books, invoices, receipts etc. Quite an onerous and expensive task for the individual concerned I'd imagine. The auditor can also be summonsed to give oral evidence on oath but that is rare.
This would only be done if we thought that there were BIG porkies being told
We are used to outgoings exceeding income slightly and quite understand why an individual could not afford to pay fines whilst spending Ã‚Â£100+ per week on satellite TV, smoking, drinking etc.
As an example example, I dealt with one case recently where we reserved the case to ourselves after the defendant had given the Court and the local authority a real "run around". We decided the messing about had to stop. The defendant couldn't even remember what he'd put down on the "audited" accounts. Given that we didn't believe what he said and that was AFTER a formal means enquiry, instead of facing fines in the region of Ã‚Â£450 he ended up owing the Court just short of Ã‚Â£10,000. He was also reported to HMRC, having let slip that his admitted income, of Ã‚Â£400 per week, was actually not drawn from his businesses but came from a "casual" cash in hand job transporting scrap cars. I imagine his tax affairs are even now being scrutinised most critically.
He could, of course, have appealed against our decision. That would then have meant an even more detailed examination of his financial affairs before a panel consisting of a Judge and two Magistrates in Crown Court.
So you can see that, if we think the means form is at least partially realistic, we tend to accept it as a basis for calculating fines, compensation, costs etc. A formal means enquiry is something that most people in with any common sense would try to avoid.