David Calvert-Smith

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Sir David Calvert-Smith

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
High Court Judge
In office
11 January 2005 30 September 2012
Monarch Elizabeth II
Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales
In office
January 1998 September 2003
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Dame Barbara Mills
Succeeded by Ken Macdonald
Personal details
David Calvert-Smith

(1945-04-06) 6 April 1945 (age 75)
London, England
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Occupation High Court Judge

Sir David Calvert-Smith, QC (born 6 April 1945), styled The Hon. Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, is a retired British judge. He was Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales from 1998 to 2003 and then a High Court judge. Educated at Eton College and King's College Cambridge, he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1969 and became a queen's counsel in 1997. He was knighted in 2002 and sat as a High Court judge from 2005 to 2012. Mr Justice Calvert-Smith is an honorary member of QEB Hollis Whiteman. [1]



Early career

After beginning his career both prosecuting and defending, he specialised in prosecution work from 1986, including several cases of murder, terrorism and organised crime.

Directorship of Public Prosecutions

In October 1998, he became Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service, a post he held for five years. During his tenure, the failure of the prosecutions of Paul Burrell and the killers of Damilola Taylor damaged the Service's reputation, and the CPS was described as "institutionally racist" by him and two reports. [2] [3] Notable successes were the prosecutions of serial killer Harold Shipman and former spy David Shayler.

When the Human Rights Act 1998 was passed (most of which came into force in 2000), Calvert-Smith was the first DPP to have to deal with the impact it was expected to have on criminal trials. [4]

In 2002, he opposed proposals to change the law to deem a person found in possession of drugs to be guilty of possession with intent to supply if the quantity exceeded a certain amount. In a letter to Parliament, he wrote: "the best approach is for the jury to focus on weighing the evidence tending to demonstrate intent to supply ... as opposed to this issue being determined with reference to an arbitrary amount". [5] However, the law was changed after he left office, by section 2 of the Drugs Act 2005, which was never commenced and was repealed by the Policing and Crime Act 2009, s 112(2), Sch 8, Pt 13.

Towards the end of his term, he piloted a new system in which CPS lawyers, instead of police officers, would make decisions about charging suspects, resulting in a 15 percent increase in convictions. This policy was fully implemented by his successor.

Later career

In 2004, he was acting director of the Customs and Excise Prosecutions Office. In 2005, he led an inquiry for the Commission for Racial Equality into how the police forces of England and Wales deal with racism within their ranks. The inquiry reported in March 2005. At a press conference, Calvert-Smith said that "willingness to change at the top is not translating into action lower down, particularly in middle-management where you find the ice in the heart of the Police Service." [6]

On January 11 2005, Calvert-Smith was appointed as a judge of the High Court. [7]


Mr Justice David Calvert-Smith retired from the High Court (Queen's Bench Division) on 30 September 2012. [8]

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  1. "David Calvert-Smith leads a parole board confronted by an unprecedented backlog of hearings and little option but to keep inmates waiting in overcrowded prisons". 1 August 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  2. bbc.co.uk: "In an interview for BBC Radio 4's On The Ropes (Tuesday 25 June, 9.00am), the Director of Public Prosecutions says he believes that British society is racist."
  3. telegraph.co.uk: Archived 12 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. innocent.org.uk: Archived 25 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Quote by Sir David Calvert-Smith, QC, Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  6. cre.gov.uk: Archived 21 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Notice L-57533-1002". The London Gazette. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  8. "Retirement of The Honourable Mr Justice Calvert-Smith". Ministry of Justice. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Dame Barbara Mills
Director of Public Prosecutions
Succeeded by
Ken Macdonald
Preceded by
Sir David Latham
Chairman of the Parole Board (England & Wales)
Succeeded by