Alison Saunders

Last updated

Dame Alison Saunders

DCB
Alison Saunders 2016 (crop).jpg
Saunders in 2016
Director of Public Prosecutions
In office
1 November 2013 31 October 2018
Appointed by Dominic Grieve
Preceded by Keir Starmer
Succeeded by Max Hill
Personal details
Born
Alison Margaret Brown

(1961-02-14) 14 February 1961 (age 59)
Aberdeen, Scotland
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
NationalityBritish
Spouse(s)Neil Saunders
ChildrenTwo sons
Alma mater University of Leeds
Profession Barrister
Salary£210,000 - £214,999 (2018)
Awards Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath (2013)

Dame Alison Margaret Saunders, DCB (born 14 February 1961) is a British barrister and a former Director of Public Prosecutions. She was the first lawyer from within the Crown Prosecution Service and the second woman to hold the appointment. She was also the second holder of this office not to be a Queen's Counsel. She was previously the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London. Her term of office ended 31 October 2018. [1] She is now a Partner at the Magic Circle law firm Linklaters.

Contents

Early life

Saunders was born on 14 February 1961 in Aberdeen, Scotland to Hugh Colin Brown and Margaret Bennett Brown. [2] [3] [4] She attended primary school in Brixton, London and St Teilo's Church in Wales High School in Cardiff. [5] [3] Saunders then studied at Runshaw College in Leyland, Lancashire. She read law at the University of Leeds from 1979 to 1982. She graduated Bachelor of Laws (LLB hons). [6]

Career

Having completed her pupillage and thereby becoming a qualified barrister, Saunders began working for Lloyd's of London. [7] She joined the newly formed CPS in 1986. [4] In 1991, she joined the CPS policy division. [8] She was appointed Branch Crown Prosecutor for Wood Green in 1997, and Assistant Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS London South in 1999. [9] She took up the appointment of Chief Crown Prosecutor for Sussex in 2001 overseeing the case made against Roy Whiting, who was convicted of murdering Sarah Payne. [7] Between 2003 and 2005, she served as Deputy Legal Advisor to the Attorney General. [9] She then became head of prosecutions for the Organised Crime division of the CPS. [8] She was the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London from 2009 until 2013. [10] During that time, she was involved in the 2011 to 2012 retrial, and subsequent conviction, of the killers of Stephen Lawrence. [10]

Director of Public Prosecutions

On 23 July 2013, it was announced that she would become the new Director of Public Prosecutions in succession to Sir Keir Starmer, taking up the appointment on 1 November 2013. She was the first head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to be appointed from within the service and the second woman to hold the appointment. [10] [11]

As the Director of Public Prosecutions, Saunders has faced criticism and controversy around the handling of trials for rape and sexual assault. The CPS has been criticised for the case of Eleanor de Freitas, who killed herself after the CPS decided to take over a private prosecution brought against her by the man she accused of rape. Saunders said that the "evidence in this case was strong and having considered it in light of all of our knowledge and guidance on prosecuting sexual offences and allegedly false rape claims, it is clear there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for perverting the course of justice". [12] Saunders has also stated that the number of rape prosecutions being brought to court will increase by a third in the year 2015 and has argued that this increase follows improvements in the treatment received by victims by police, courts and the CPS. [13]

In 2014, Saunders announced the CPS would be seeking to fight against criminals hiding assets abroad and appointed a team of six specialist lawyers to work with legal authorities overseas to recover assets from countries including Spain and the United Arab Emirates. [14]

In April 2015, Saunders was criticized for her decision not to prosecute Greville Janner on child sexual abuse charges despite his meeting the evidential test for prosecution, citing his poor health, as well as for dropping charges against nine journalists as part of the Operation Elveden case. Saunders defended herself saying, "I’m not here to make popular decisions. I always feel under pressure to make the right decision." [15] In June 2015, The Guardian reported that, following a review, the decision not to prosecute Lord Janner would in fact be overturned. Simon Danczuk, then MP for Rochdale, told the Guardian that "if the report is accurate, Saunders will now have to consider her position" as a result of the scrutiny that her initial decision would now be placed under. [16] The decision marks the first time a DPP has had a major prosecuting decision reviewed and overturned. Amid calls for her resignation, she told the BBC that she would not resign. [17] Saunders blamed failings within her department and the police for the collapse of three different police inquiries between 1991 and 2007. Theresa May (then the home secretary, later Prime Minister) said in a radio interview: “I was very concerned when I heard about this decision. It is not my decision, it is entirely a decision for the director of public prosecutions.” [18]

In 2015, a case was brought against Saunders in the High Court. The Plaintiff, Nikki Kenward, argued that Saunders had amended prosecution policy outside of the democratic process. [19] Saunders released the alleged amendment in October, 2014. In it she suggested that the guidelines on assisted suicide prosecution be understood such that a doctor who is not the patient's immediate care provider, should not be as likely to face prosecution as a doctor who is the patient's immediate care provider. This prompted a backlash from anti-assisted suicide groups who argued that this was a substantial change, which would allow for businesses similar to Dignitas to operate in the UK. Saunders' defence was that she had only clarified the existing guidelines. [20] Nevertheless, Kenward was granted the judicial review against Saunders in April, 2015. [19] It went to the High Court in November, 2015 where the case against Saunders was dismissed. [21]

As of 2018, Saunders was paid a salary of between £210,000 and £214,999. [22]

On 2 April 2018, it was announced that Saunders was to stand down at the end of her term as head of the CPS [23] and on 1 November 2018 she was succeeded as Director of Public Prosecutions by Max Hill QC. [24]

Controversy

In June 2015, Saunders was accused by journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer of a crusade to criminalise "drunken sexual encounters". [25] In December 2017, The Daily Telegraph journalist Allison Pearson called for Saunders to resign following the scandal of several high-profile rape cases falling apart or convictions being overturned due to police withholding key information regarding the innocence of the accused. [26]

On 23 January 2018, however, Saunders was criticised by victims and survivors' groups because her words could be taken to mean that silence equates to consent. [27]

After it was announced that Saunders would not be reappointed for a second term, The Daily Telegraph also reported in April, 2018 that crime statistics tracking burglary, violent crime and shoplifting all rose significantly under Saunders' tenure ever since she first became Director of Public Prosecutions. [28]

On 29 December 2018 The Telegraph reported that Alison Saunders will be "the first former head of the Crown Prosecution Service not to receive a senior honour after her tenure was marked by a series of scandals". (All of her predecessors "became a knight or a dame either during their tenure, or immediately after their departure.") [29] A week after she stepped down as head of the CPS, it was announced that the CPS had agreed to a five-figure settlement with broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree and bailed repeatedly for a year over unfounded sex charges before being told he would not be charged. Samuel Armstrong, a former Conservative MP's chief of staff who was acquitted of rape, said the settlement was a "damning indictment" that "should act as the final nail in the coffin for her hopes of a damehood." He added: "Saunders' one-woman crusade to shift the scales of justice in sex cases not only ruined the lives of dozens of young men but of Paul Gambaccini as well." [30]

Later career

In 2019 Saunders joined the law firm Linklaters as Dispute Resolution Partner. [31]

Personal life

Saunders is married to Neil Saunders, a lawyer, and has two sons. [32] [33] [3]

Honours

Saunders was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2013 New Year Honours "for services to Law and Order especially after the 2011 London Riots" [34] and Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath (DCB) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to criminal justice. [35]

Related Research Articles

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the office or official charged with the prosecution of criminal offences in several criminal jurisdictions around the world. The title is used mainly in jurisdictions that are or have been members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Greville Janner

Greville Ewan Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone, QC was a British politician, barrister and writer. He became a Leicester Labour MP in the 1970 general election as a last-minute candidate, succeeding his father. He was an MP until 1997, and then elevated to the House of Lords. Never a frontbencher, Janner was particularly known for his work on Select Committees; he chaired the Select Committee on Employment for a time. He was associated with a number of Jewish organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, of which he was chairman from 1978 to 1984, and was later prominent in the field of education about the Holocaust.

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service, is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. It is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Elish Angiolini

Dame Elish Frances Angiolini is a Scottish lawyer. She was the Lord Advocate of Scotland from 2006 until 2011, having previously been Solicitor General since 2001. She was the first woman, the first Procurator Fiscal, and the first solicitor to hold either post. Since September 2012, Angiolini is the Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford. She is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland. Since leaving office she has led several investigations and inquiries, including a review of deaths in police custody commissioned by the then-Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO) was a non-departmental public body created under the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 as an independent prosecution body to take responsibility in the England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the prosecution of criminal offences in cases previously within the purview of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise (HMCE). In Scotland it was a Specialist Reporting Agency and the cases are then prosecuted by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. It was merged with the Crown Prosecution Service on 1 January 2010.

Barbara Mills

Dame Barbara Jean Lyon Mills DBE QC was a British barrister. She held various senior public appointments including Director of Public Prosecutions, and was widely seen as a pioneer for women gaining such appointments in the higher echelons of the legal profession. At the time of her death she was Chair of the Professional Oversight Board.

Kenneth Donald John Macdonald, Baron Macdonald of River Glaven, Kt, QC is a British lawyer and politician who served as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of England and Wales from 2003 to 2008. In that office he was head of the Crown Prosecution Service. He was previously a Recorder and defence barrister. He is currently Warden of Wadham College, Oxford and a life peer in the House of Lords, where he sits as a crossbencher and was previously a Liberal Democrat.

Leanne Clare is a Judge of the District Court of Queensland and a former Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). On 2 April 2008 she was appointed to the District Court after eight years as DPP. Between 1999 and 2000 she served as an acting judge at Ipswich District Court.

A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual private citizen or private organisation instead of by a public prosecutor who represents the state. Private prosecutions are allowed in many jurisdictions under common law, but have become less frequent in modern times as most prosecutions are now handled by professional public prosecutors instead of private individuals who retain barristers.

Keir Starmer Leader of the British Labour Party, MP for Holborn and St Pancras

Sir Keir Rodney Starmer is a British politician and former lawyer who has served as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2020. He has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015. Ideologically, Starmer identifies as a socialist and has been described as being on the soft left within the Labour Party.

Debbie Purdy was a British music journalist and political activist from Bradford, West Yorkshire, with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, notable for her challenge to the law in England and Wales as relates to assisted suicide. On 20 September 2009, it was announced that guidelines on assisted suicide law would be published by the UK Government. The guidelines for England and Wales "come after a legal battle won by Debbie Purdy", as "Law Lords accepted earlier this year that [Purdy] had a right to know whether her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her to travel abroad to commit suicide."

Director of Public Prosecutions (England and Wales)

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the third most senior public prosecutor in England and Wales. The DPP is the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), with personal responsibility for its 7,000 staff and approximately 800,000 prosecutions undertaken by it every year. The holder of the role is appointed by the Attorney General on the recommendation of a panel that includes the First Civil Service Commissioner.

Oluwashijibomi "Shiji" Lapite was a 34-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker who died in the back of a police van shortly after being detained by two officers from Stoke Newington police station in London.

Twitter Joke Trial

R v Paul Chambers, popularly known as the Twitter Joke Trial, was a United Kingdom legal case centred on the conviction of a man under the Communications Act 2003 for posting a joke about destroying an airport to Twitter, a message which police regarded as "menacing". The conviction was widely condemned as a miscarriage of justice, and was appealed three times, the conviction being quashed as a result of the third appeal.

<i>Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority</i> Legal proceedings in the UK concerning the requested extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden

Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority were the set of legal proceedings in the United Kingdom concerning the requested extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden to further a 'preliminary investigation' into accusations of his having committed sexual offences. The proceedings began in 2012 and on 12 August 2015, Swedish prosecutors announced that they would drop their investigation into three of the allegations against Assange, because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. The investigation into the allegation of rape, as of 19 May 2017, has been dropped by Swedish authorities. A disputed issue over the course of the legal proceedings was the claimed fear that Assange could ultimately be extradited to United States of America should he be sent to Sweden.

Director of Public Prosecutions of Kenya

The Constitution itself anchors the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Kenya. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is the National Prosecuting Authority in Kenya. The Constitution mandates it to prosecute all criminal cases in the country.

<i>Giving Victims a Voice</i>

Giving Victims a Voice is a report published in January 2013, relating to allegations of sexual abuse made against English DJ and BBC Television presenter Jimmy Savile (1926–2011) as part of the Operation Yewtree criminal investigation. It was initiated as a result of publicity surrounding the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) jointly produced this report. It marked the end of investigations made under the operation regarding Savile alone.

Nazir Afzal

Nazir Afzal is a British solicitor with experience in the legal areas of child sexual exploitation and violence against women. He is a practising Muslim, with outspoken views in favour of women's rights and against forced marriage, female genital mutilation and honour killings.

The New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is an independent prosecuting service and government agency within the portfolio of the Attorney General of New South Wales. Of all prosecuting services in Australia, the ODPP has the largest caseload, staff, and budget.

Eleanor Poppy Miranda de Freitas was an English woman who committed suicide three days before the commencement of her trial for perverting the course of justice for allegedly making a false accusation of rape. Her death prompted a debate over whether prosecuting people accused of making a false accusation of rape could deter rape victims from reporting the crime, as well as whether it was appropriate to prosecute vulnerable individuals.

References

  1. Buchanan, Mike (11 October 2018). "Citizens' Prosecution of Alison Saunders – protest in London, Wednesday, 31 October (the last day of the evil witch's tenure at the CPS)". Justice for Men & Boys. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  2. "Birthdays". The Guardian . 14 February 2014. p. 41.
  3. 1 2 3 "Saunders, Alison Margaret, (born 14 Feb. 1961), Director of Public Prosecutions, since 2013 - WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U258347.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. 1 2 "Who is Alison Saunders, the lawyer announced as the new DPP?". The Week. 23 July 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  5. Bentham, Martin (4 November 2013). "I will not be rushed into decision on Plegbate, says new Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  6. "Alison Saunders". LinkedIn. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  7. 1 2 Topping, Alexandra (23 July 2013). "Stephen Lawrence barrister to become director of public prosecutions". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Alison Saunders to be new director of public prosecutions". BBC News. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  9. 1 2 "Alison Saunders made a CB for services to law". CPS London. 2 January 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 Branagh, Ellen (23 July 2013). "Stephen Lawrence barrister Alison Saunders to take over from Keir Starmer as new Director of Public Prosecutions". The Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  11. "Saunders to replace Starmer at DPP". Liverpool Daily Post. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  12. Laville, Sandra (9 December 2014). "DPP defends decision to prosecute rape complainant who killed herself". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  13. Bowcott, Owen (8 January 2015). "Rape trials rise by 30% as courts fight to clear caseload". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  14. "DPP Alison Saunders announces plan to seize more criminal assets hidden abroad". BBC News. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  15. "DPP Alison Saunders faces Operation Elveden and Janner criticism". The Guardian. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  16. Syal, Rajeev (26 June 2015). "CPS decision not to prosecute Lord Janner 'to be overturned'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  17. "Lord Janner faces historical sex abuse prosecution". BBC. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  18. "Greville Janner affair: Children's homes inquiry evidence 'must be released'". Guardian. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  19. 1 2 "Assisted suicide guidelines challenged in High Court". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  20. "Director of Public Prosecutions responds to Supreme Court on assisted suicide policy". www.cps.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  21. www.digitalvirtue.com, Digital Virtue - w. "High Court allows DPP change in assisted suicide law that makes prosecuting healthcare professionals unlikely". www.thetablet.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  22. "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2018 - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. 19 December 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  23. Sparrow, Andrew (2 April 2018). "Alison Saunders to quit as director of public prosecutions". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2018. [Saunders] is quitting when her five-year contract finishes at the end of this year.
  24. "Max Hill QC joins the CPS as Director of Public Prosecutions". GOV.UK. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  25. Hartley-Brewer, Julia (29 June 2015). "Alison Saunders should be sacked – for the Janner case, and for her absurd views on rape". The Independent. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  26. Pearson, Allison (19 December 2017). "Alison Saunders must stand down - or be sacked". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  27. "Head of CPS says rape victims who stay silent 'give impression that they consent'". Metro. 23 June 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  28. Kirk, Ashley (2 April 2018). "How burglary, violent crime and shoplifting all rose under Alison Saunders' leadership as police pursued historical sex offences and journalists". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  29. Gardner, Bill (28 December 2018). "Alison Saunders, much-criticised former CPS chief, becomes first not to receive top honour". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  30. Bird, Steve (3 November 2018). "Paul Gambaccini receives payout from CPS over unfounded abuse claims". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  31. "Alison Saunders". Linklaters. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  32. Gibb, Frances (23 July 2013). "Woman insider to succeed Keir Starmer as next DPP". The Times. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  33. Hopkins, Nick (30 January 2012). "Rapes, murders – and one sleepless night: the life of a criminal prosecutor". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  34. "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. pp. 2–3.
  35. "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N3.
Preceded by
Sir Keir Starmer
Director of Public Prosecutions
20132018
Succeeded by
Max Hill QC