April 2, 2018 / 12:17 PM / 2 months ago

Top prosecutor to stand down after five years

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s director of public prosecutions, who has faced criticism for the collapse of several rape cases, will stand down in October at the end of her five-year contract, the government said.

Alison Saunders, who heads the independent Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales, was criticised from within the legal profession after police and prosecutors failed to disclose evidence in the cases, causing them to collapse.

She said it was her decision to step down.

“DPPs serve a term of five years, I was clear that five years what was a good term to serve and I’ve already decided what I will be doing when I leave in October,” she told BBC radio on Monday.

Saunders is due to join the multinational law firm Linklaters, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

The CPS has endured a number of controversies under Saunders’ tenure, including her decision not to prosecute an member of the House of Lords upper chamber of parliament over accusations of historical child sex crimes that was overruled by an independent lawyer.

The lord died shortly after a judge ruled he was unfit to stand trial.

The service said in January it would review all current rape cases to ensure all evidence was handed over to defendants after the collapse of four prosecutions in a two-month period.

Saunders said on Monday there had been systemic failures in the disclosure of evidence across all parts of the criminal justice system for some time, and police and prosecutors were committed to getting it right.

She defended her record as the head of the service during a period when it had faced budget cuts.

“Our performance across the last five years has been as good as, if not improving, despite the cuts that we have taken over that period,” she told BBC radio.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alison Williams

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