Friday, 23 July 2010

Why The CPS Is, Unfortunately, Wrong

Dizzy Thinks has an interesting post this morning on the travesty of justice that is the CPS decision not to prosecute a policeman for causing the death (according to the evidence of two out of three experts) of an innocent, if intoxicated, bystander at the G8 protests a couple of years back. He goes through all the various legal scenarios and outcomes studied and predicted over 16 long months by the strangely unimpressive Keir Starmer and his Crown Prosecution 'Service'. Dizzy's post is pretty comprehensive so I won't go into it in too much detail. Better you read it for yourself here. Suffice to say, he sums up his explanation of the CPS' decision and why he thinks it's the right one as follows:
Think about it for a moment. It would, frankly, be absurd for the Crown to attempt to prosecute someone and then have their own witness testify that their own case wasn't water-tight and that the defendant might in fact be not guilty.
That's why the CPS didn't, wouldn't, and couldn't go ahead with a trial, and screaming "whitewash" or "cover-up" is little more than a jerking knee inspired by those who have prejudged the case and have a committed held view on the officer's guilt already. If this had gone to trial, and the result would've been not guilty, I imagine there would be theories and speculation about Jury nobbling too.
I'm very uncomfortable with these comments for two main reasons - and several minor ones. The main reasons are that, first, no one is shouting 'whitewash' on this blog and it is silly - if not self-defeating - for Dizzy Thinks to characterise everyone who disagrees with the decision not to prosecute the policeman concerned for anything at all after the death of a human being as either Lefties or conspiracy theorists. It's just not true, and suggests a rather unbalanced view on his part, frankly.

Second, the decision itself. To me it was desperately wrong for a reason of principle, namely, that the CPS was not set up to adjudicate in criminal matters. It was set up to organise prosecutions. It's up to a jury in a trial to determine guilt or innocence and advocates to make the case, or defend the defendant, as best they can.

The reason why the CPS is wrong is because the decision should not have been up to the CPS - or Keir Starmer - to decide whether there was a case for the suspect to answer in the first place. No one seems to doubt that there was, even if it were one of common assault, not even the police themselves.

This is just one more instance among so many others that indicate the CPS is basically out of control. Reform seems to me to be the next logical step, so we at least can try to get back to trial by a jury of our peers - and justice - instead of non-trial by evidence review by a glorified quango - or injustice.

I was quite pleased to read Gerald Warner's comment in the Telegraph just now:
If there are “fundamental differences” of medical opinion, as cited by the CPS, surely that is all the more reason to resolve them in a court of law, rather than to kick this life-and-deathquestion into the long grass.
Dizzy can hardly describe Warner as a Lefty or a conspiracy theorist. Warner simply understands what an awful lot of other people do too: it should be up to the courts to decide whether a person is guilty of a crime, not the CPS and certainly not Keir-bloody-Starmer.

It's probably worth adding that Warner's article mainly concerns the probability that the police's image, already quite thoroughly tarnished for a large number of pretty shabby reasons over the past decade, has just taken another hit thanks to Starmer's extremely puzzling decision. Is that really what they wanted, one wonders? Do they even care?


  1. Good post Denver.

    One of the worrying things about this decision is that it will be seen in a world of “us and them” as "them" looking after “their own”.

    Of course decisions like this cannot be made on how popular they may seem to be with the general public, but it never helps if the public at large is outraged by the justice system. A straw poll around my area (albeit in another legal jurisdiction) is that it was a fit up!

    As you say the courts should have decided this. Starmer seems to think that there wasn't enough evidence and who am I to gainsay this? But we have a policeman with a record of violence; a video clearly showing him hitting the guy; and a medical officer who has a dubious record.

    What more did he want to bring the case given its ‘sensitivity’ that he might have foreseen?

    We don't have a CPS in Scotland; we have Procurators Fiscal whose job it is to decide whether bringing a case will be a travesty of justice, a waste of expensive court time, or perform a genuine public service.

    I don't know if your CPS does that, but it does seem to have difficulties finding its butt with both hands if all it could manage out of the entire parliament was 6 thieves!

  2. Sometimes, tris - just sometimes, mind - I wish I was a Scotsman.

    I'm not being cryptic. I know that Scotland's justice (and education) systems are better than the rest of the UK's ;)

    Apart from individual cases of the "compassionate" release of "terminally" ill mass murderers, of course. But that's wasn't justice, that was politics.


Any thoughts?