Court rules police legally posed as hitmen

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The Independent Online
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POLICE acted lawfully in posing as hitmen in a bid to ensnare two people trying to hire contract killers, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, said evidence from officers posing as would-be killers was rightly admitted at two separate trials to obtain convictions for soliciting the proposed murders.

Laying down guidelines for future cases, he said the law clearly permitted a court to have regard to the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained and to ban it if it would adversely affect the fairness of legal proceedings.

But 'the fact that the evidence has been obtained by entrapment, or by an agent provacateur or by a trick does not of itself require a trial judge to exclude it'. Lord Taylor, sitting with Mr Justice Alliott and Mr Justice Buckley, was giving the court's reasons for last month dismissing appeals brought by Keith Smurthwaite, 39, a self-employed builder, and Susan Gill, 40, against their convictions for attempting to set up the murders of their respective partners.

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