Police and prosecutors under fire over scandalous disclosure failures

A number of rape and sexual assault cases could be dropped, the Director of Public Prosecutions admitted after she announced an urgent review to ensure evidence has been disclosed properly.

Alison Saunders launched the review after the collapse of four rape trials due to the failure by the police or Crown Prosecution Service to disclose digital evidence, which emerged at the last minute and cast doubt on the allegations made. A people-trafficking trial also collapsed due to the failure to disclose crucial evidence.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Saunders had previously said the cases showed that the justice system was working and that as far as she could tell, no-one is in jail after being wrongly convicted due to disclosure failures.

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, said there was no evidence of ‘widespread malpractice or dishonesty’, but said police and prosecutors were not carrying out basic disclosure procedures.

But the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, told The Times he feared rapists will get away with their crimes because police and prosecution failings have undermined public confidence in the justice system.

Juries, he said, could be deterred from convicting in sexual assault trials because they would not have faith in evidence placed before the court.

The former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd told the Today programme ‘this is a systemic problem’ that has been flagged up by the Court of Appeal two and half years ago, but not dealt with.

See 'Disclosure in criminal cases: it's not rocket science'.

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