Interview under caution is typically the last major link in the chain of investigation before a decision is made on whether a prosecution will be brought. It can be an intimidating encounter, but it is also an opportunity for potential defendants to put their own case on record, with a view to influencing the prosecution decision or laying an early basis for a later plea in mitigation.
1.Think carefully about whom you put forward to speak at interview.
The most obvious spokeperson might seem to an in-house safety adviser, but in my experience that is only rarely helpful to your case: a senior line manager, with no direct involvement in the incident or its likely cause, is usually a better choice.
2. Prepare thoroughly for the encounter.
The interviewers, whether police, HSE or ORR, will have planned their line of questions. Try to anticipate what you will be asked and how you will answer. In good time for the interview, invite the investigators to disclose the documents they intend to put to you during the interrogation. That request will typically be refused, but making it allows you to raise a legitimate protest if you are ambushed with paperwork in the course of the questioning.
3. Decide what form you want the interview to take.
In the great majority of cases, reading a prepared statement onto the record will help you more than submitting from the outset to a question-and-answer format constrained by the line the investigator wishes to follow, which may differ from yours. Having put your case through the statement, invite questions to clarify any point you have made or deal with issues you have not mentioned.
4. Ask for copies to take away with you of any documents you are shown or which are read out to you (in whole or part) with which you are unfamiliar.
The request may well be denied, but it does no harm to ask. It is very unusual for witness statements to be released, but you should be given a fair opportunity to consider other documents on which you have been asked to comment.
5. Take time out before the interview concludes, to review what has been said and identify areas for further comment you may want to make.
You are entitled to a break at any time during interrogation, and it is very important that you exercise that right, and put your best case in all respects, before allowing the interviewers to bring the encounter to an end.
Written by Mark Scoggins, Solicitor Advocate, Fisher Scoggins Waters LLP for The SHE Show North East 2019.
Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.