MPs blamed inadequate leadership for disclosure failings that have led to miscarriages of justice.
In its Disclosure of Evidence in Criminal Cases report, the Justice Committee said problems had ‘persisted far too long, in clear sight of people working within the system’.
It criticised the now former Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, who admitted being aware of problems as far back as 1996, for allowing them to persist and worsen under his watch, and outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, for not ‘pressing for more urgent action to address the worsening situation’. But, the committee added that Saunders was not helped by Crown Prosecution Service data which may have underestimated the number of cases affected by 90%.
Committee Chair, Bob Neill said correct disclosure was ‘fundamental’ to fair trials, but had too often been regarded an ‘administrative headache’, resulting in miscarriages of justice.
Bar Chair, Andrew Walker QC said the government must accept the ‘clear link’ between disclosure failures and over 60% cut to the CPS budget between 2010-2016.
After a CPS review of sex cases, the Criminal Cases Review Commission is to review 306 rape convictions in cases closed between April 2016 and March 2018.
Liam Allan, a student on bail for two years before his trial was halted, has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise awareness of the failings, as the start of a united campaign to bring about change.