New Chief Prosecutor – Don’t Look For The Evidence Rapists Might Be Innocent

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That looks like a fairly incendiary headline but that does seem to be what the new head of the Crown Prosecution Service is insisting – that the system should no longer look for the evidence that accused rapists might in fact be innocent. That rather betraying the basic responsibility of any justice system, let alone governmental one, which is to try and make sure that the innocent aren’t jugged, only the guilty.

But that does seem to be what is being violated here:

We shouldn’t be trawling rape victims’ phones, says law chief

Well, maybe we should and maybe we shouldn’t. That’s an interesting question to think about:

Mr Hill said that police and prosecutors were struggling to deal with disclosure in criminal trials because there was so much digital evidence.

Mr Hill, an experienced criminal barrister in both prosecution and defence work, said that “people increasingly live their lives — and so leave trails of evidence and information — on smartphones and social media. It is crucial that only reasonable lines of inquiry are pursued, to avoid unnecessary intrusion into a complainant’s personal life.”

Well, yes. Increasingly, the evidence we require to decide even whether a rape has taken place or not, let alone whodunnit, is going to be in those texts, social media messages etc on that phone. That would imply that we look rather more at phones, no?

A number of rape cases have collapsed in the past year after the defence got access at the 11th hour to evidence that had not previously been disclosed to them. Several defendants spent months on remand.

Quite so, not to speak of any one specific case, but things like “That was great, let’s do it again” the morning after turning into “You raped me you bastard” when that initial approval and affection is no longer returned. Being used, but not abused, turning into that allegation. And how do we know this was so? By trawling through exactly those phones.

Rape complainants must have their personal privacy, including mobile phone records, protected, the new chief prosecutor said last night as he addressed his department’s failings on disclosure of evidence.

In his first major speech since he took over as director of public prosecutions, Max Hill, QC, pledged to restore public confidence in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which was damaged by the collapse of a series of prosecutions because of failure to disclose evidence to the defence.

The statement being when we do look it’s all rather embarrassing so let’s not look, jug a few more innocents and thus avoid embarrassment.

No, that’s not how we should run a justice system, is it, with such a notable lack of justice. It’s possible to argue from this point that the new CPS head should rapidly become the ex-CPS head. Possibly we should too.

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BniC
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BniC

So he’s saying the fix for previous failings to disclose evidence is not to collect any evidence in the first place? Not sure how they disntguish which bits of evidence help with guilt vs innocence without first gathering and examining it, but maybe that’s because I’m not a top QC

Raffles
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Raffles

Quick question.

In the US you hear about defenc(s)e attorneys subpoenaing evidence to be used in the defence. Can UK lawyers do this? Get the phone records of the accuser, for example?

Of course it would require a defence lawyer to give a damn/be paid enough…

BniC
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BniC

So he’s saying the fix for previous failings to disclose evidence is not to collect any evidence in the first place? Not sure how they disntguish which bits of evidence help with guilt vs innocence without first gathering and examining it, but maybe that’s because I’m not a top QC

Raffles
Guest
Raffles

Quick question.

In the US you hear about defenc(s)e attorneys subpoenaing evidence to be used in the defence. Can UK lawyers do this? Get the phone records of the accuser, for example?

Of course it would require a defence lawyer to give a damn/be paid enough…