LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - THE TIMES
Thursday 21 December 2017
Sir, Your reports (Dec 20) on the collapse of two rape cases in a week reveal the tip of the iceberg. Fair disclosure of evidence gathered in an investigation in a criminal prosecution is essential to a fair trial. Sadly such failures are only too common. In our own recent survey, more than 98 per cent of respondents reported serious disclosure failures, and of those who responded, 90 per cent reported it as commonplace.
The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report in July found that adequate disclosure took place in 13 per cent of cases. This is a national scandal. Thousands are being denied a fair trial: innocent people are being convicted and guilty ones acquitted. Something has to change.
This undisclosed material is deemed “unused material” and legal aid lawyers are not paid for reading it. The Legal Aid Agency clearly views it as unimportant. Thank goodness in Liam Allan’s case that good unpaid work by defence and prosecution lawyers discovered the failings.
The present review by the Metropolitan Police should be extended to all cases, not only rape and sex cases.
Chairman, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association