Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders to step down

Crown Prosecution Service head to leave in October following criticism over collapsed rape trials

Alison Saunders was appointed in 2013. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA 

By Liz Bates

03 Apr 2018

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service Alison Saunders is preparing to step down amid criticism over the collapse of a number of rape trials.

Saunders will not continue when her five-year term in the role comes to an end in October.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has been under scrutiny in recent months after four rape trials collapsed in quick succession over the disclosure of crucial evidence just days before cases were due to go to court.


The incidents forced an urgent review of every rape case in the country.

A Whitehall source told the Telegraph: "It was felt a clean break was needed. Alison's tenure has been highly contentious, to say the least, and we want someone who can come into this job with a clear agenda.

“It was made clear that her contract would not be extended."

A senior lawyer added: "It has been a disastrous tenure, it has reduced the credibility of the role after Keir Starmer. I think that the respect for the profession of the role has been diminished."

Saunders defended her tenure during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, insisting that the service had improved in recent years despite cuts.

She said that the decision to quit the organisation had been her own, and said criticism of the CPS was “incredibly inaccurate” and “hugely insulting” to the service’s staff.

An ally of Saunders told the Telegraph that she’d had a difficult time at the CPS following the “very substantial cut under her predecessor”.

They added: “It left a painful, difficult legacy. In the circumstances, she has done a pretty reasonable job."

Announcing the decision, Attorney General Jeremy Wright thanked Saunders for her service and called her an "accomplished CPS prosecutor whose successful record includes the prosecution of Stephen Lawrence's killers".

He added: "I have no doubt that she'll be greatly missed within the organisation.”

Civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood thanked Saunders on Twitter for her “superb leadership”.

“She has been a great colleague and a dedicated public servant,” he said.

Many thanks to Alison Saunders for her superb leadership of @CPSuk over the last 4+ years. She has been a great colleague and a dedicated public servant.

— Sir Jeremy Heywood (@HeadUKCivServ) April 2, 2018

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