THE DISCLOSURE CRISIS
In 2014 Saunders promised to halt the decline in rape convictions.
But four years on, all rape and serious sex assault cases are under review following the collapse of several high-profile prosecutions due to disclosure blunders.
In the lead-up to criminal trials, police and prosecutors have a duty to disclose evidence that might either assist the defence case or undermine the prosecution’s case. But in a series of recent cases, evidence has not been handed over.
The crisis unfolded after the rape trial of criminology student Liam Allan, 22, was halted by a judge when it emerged his accuser had sent messages to friends about her rape fantasies. The number of prosecutions that have collapsed due to disclosure errors has soared by 70 per cent in the past two years.
Yet Miss Saunders has insisted there is no one innocent in jail after being wrongly convicted because of mistakes in disclosure.
THE RAPE CLAIM SUICIDE
Eleanor de Freitas, 23, was devastated when the man she accused of sexual assault launched a prosecution against her for allegedly lying.
Terrified at the prospect of intimate details of her personal life being picked over in court, the vulnerable graduate killed herself at her family home in Fulham, West London, in April 2014 – just three days before she was due to face a crown court.
Miss de Freitas had accused wealthy Chelsea financier Alexander Economou, 35, of raping her just before Christmas 2012, but detectives decided not to proceed with the case. Mr Economou then brought a private prosecution against her for perverting justice.
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
In 2014, the DPP declared FGM a priority saying: ‘We are very keen to make sure that wherever possible we are looking at FGM cases.’
But last month prosecutors failed for the third time to secure Britain’s first conviction for the offence as a lawyer was cleared at the Old Bailey of ordering his daughter be cut as punishment.
Mrs Saunders was forced to apologise after her decision not to prosecute Lord Janner was overturned
Mrs Saunders was forced to apologise after her decision not to prosecute Lord Janner was overturned.
A report by High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques later found police and prosecutors missed three chances to charge Lord Janner over historic sex abuse claims after allegations first surfaced in 1991. In April 2015 the CPS announced that the peer should not be charged as he was suffering from dementia, but this was overturned by a review two months later. A judge then ruled that he was unfit to stand trial and instead ordered a ‘trial of the facts’ to be heard at the Old Bailey. These proceedings were dropped when he died in December 2015.
Mrs Saunders has said it was ‘a matter of sincere regret’ the allegations were never heard by a jury.
The £20million probe dubbed the ‘biggest witch-hunt against journalists in memory’ ended in failure as prosecutors failed to secure a single conviction in the largest investigation in criminal history.
Operation Elveden saw 34 journalists and editors arrested over alleged payments to public officials and 29 were charged.
But their cases were either dropped or they were cleared. Some of those accused had spent years on bail. Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said that it was ‘a shameful episode in the history of this country’s criminal justice system’. But Mrs Saunders hit back saying: ‘I’m not here to make popular decisions.’