TIME TO GO

She lacks judgment, she commands very little respect amongst her peers, she frequently calls the wrong shots, and when she does, she offers no apology, only lame excuses.

No, I am not referring to the beleaguered Theresa May, but to Alison Saunders, the equally beleaguered Director of Public Prosecutions and the star comic act in the Clown Prosecution Service. Indeed, if it were not so serious, it would be laughable.

Within a few short weeks, dozens of revelations about the failure of the prosecution to disclose important evidence to the defence which even an idiot would know might undermine their case have come to light, and in some egregious cases, too late to repair the damage. I refer in particular to the case of Christina Bosoanca, who was wrongly charged with human trafficking offences and held in custody awaiting trial for 14 months.  She even had a baby in prison.  The designated judge described the failure of the CPS and the police to make full disclosure as “incompetence or negligence,” an understatement if ever there was.

And so it goes on.  And what is Alison Saunders’ answer to this appalling state of affairs?  She has ordered a review of every rape and serious sexual assault case.  With the Clown Prosecution Service reviewing itself, it’s like leaving the lunatics in charge of the asylum, and with public confidence in the Service at an all time low, it is doubtful in the extreme if the results of the review will bring this shambles to a satisfactory conclusion.

Ms. Saunders does not tell us how many cases will be reviewed, because she doesn’t know, but as a starter, last year a total of 3671 people were charged with rape, and who can say how many were charged with other serious  sexual offences. She can’t.

And it doesn’t end there. What about those convicted and whose convictions may be unreliable because of the failure to disclose?  As I understand it, there are no plans to reopen old cases, because, when asked, Ms. Saunders was to tell us that as far as she knew, and that wasn’t very far, nobody had been wrongly convicted.  Again, I ask rhetorically, how does she know?  Up until a few days ago, she was denying any crisis, it was business as usual, and negligence, or worse still, incompetence, were trademarks of the Service and nothing to get excited about.

In part these potential miscarriages of justice will persist until the CPS mindset changes fundamentally.  I refer to their approach to rape and serious sexual allegations, which is to instinctively believe the complainant, regardless of any other evidence to the contrary  and the absence of any independent corroboration.

Finally, the sentencing regime needs to be revisited, as sentences routinely passed are excessive, and do not fit the crime, but that’s another matter.

David Osborne is the author of several humorous books on the law.  His latest, entitled Order in Court, is now available in all reputable bookstores and on Amazon.