The Director of Public Prosecutions is to leave her job when her contract runs out this autumn.
Alison Saunders, who has been the head of the Crown Prosecution Service since 2013, was said by one source to be stepping down after the Government did not renew her contract.
However, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said the DPP herself had not asked ask for her five-year contract to be extended when it ends in October.
Alison Saunders became head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 2013
Over her tenure Mrs Saunders has attracted increasing controversy over a series of failed rape prosecutions.
‘It was felt a clean break was needed,’ a Whitehall source told the Daily Telegraph. ‘Alison’s tenure has been highly contentious, to say the least, and we want someone who can come into this job with a clear agenda. It was made clear that her contract would not be extended.’ A senior lawyer told the paper: ‘It has been a disastrous tenure, it has reduced the credibility of the role after (predecessor) Keir Starmer.’
But an ally of Mrs Saunders commended her for doing well within a limited budget and said she has done a ‘pretty reasonable job’.
She has attracted controversy over a series of failed rape prosecutions
Mrs Saunders, who earned £250,000 as DPP in 2017, started her career at the CPS in 1986.
The high-flying lawyer has come under fire for insisting no innocent person is in jail after being wrongly convicted because of mistakes in disclosure. Data obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act found the number of prosecutions that have collapsed because of blunders in disclosing crucial evidence has soared by 70 per cent in the past two years.
Liam Allan, 22, was charged with six counts of rape before being cleared
More than 900 suspects had charges dropped last year because police and prosecutors failed to hand evidence to defence lawyers.
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.
But the recent collapse of several rape cases has heightened concerns that evidence is not being disclosed early enough, and that the rules are not being followed.
The trial of student Liam Allan, 22, who was charged with six counts of rape, was halted by a judge after it emerged his accuser had sent hundreds of messages to friends that would have cleared him.
The case against an Oxford student accused of rape was dropped days before he was due to stand trial after evidence including his accuser’s diary was uncovered. Oliver Mears, 19, had spent more than two years on bail. Last month Mrs Saunders faced criticism after prosecutors failed to secure a conviction for female genital mutilation for a third time.
The Attorney General’s office said: ‘In line with her predecessors, the DPP was appointed for a five-year term which ends in October 2018. The DPP did not ask for an extension to her contract. She will take up a position as a partner in (law firm) Linklaters when she leaves the CPS.’