Sir, In our experience the system of disclosure, particularly as it relates to electronic media, has long been unfit for purpose. We welcome the announcement by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) that an urgent review of “all live rape and serious sexual assault cases” is now under way (report, Jan 27) but we see a pressing need for clarity on the scope and conduct of that review. Why, for example, has this review been confined to cases of rape and “serious” sexual assault? What is the threshold for determining the seriousness of sexual offences? Will the review involve a fresh examination of all electronic evidence in the possession of the police? And why is it not being extended to other kinds of cases that might be equally affected by non-disclosure of material?
We have written to the DPP seeking urgent answers and have invited the Crown Prosecution Service to meet us to establish a constructive dialogue on these issues. If the situation is not resolved it will not simply be individual cases and potentially wrongful convictions at stake but the public’s confidence in the safety of our entire criminal justice system.
Jessica Parker, Corker Binning;
Ellen Peart, BCL Solicitors;
Jenny Wiltshire, Hickman & Rose;
Nigel Richardson, Hodge Jones & Allen;
David Sleight, Kingsley Napley;
Sarah Elliott, QC, Doughty Street Chambers;
Sarah Forshaw, QC, 5 King’s Bench Walk;
Eleanor Laws, QC, QEB Hollis Whiteman;
Stephen Vullo, QC, 2 Bedford Row;
Aisling Byrnes, 25 Bedford Row;
Orla Daly, 5 King’s Bench Walk;
Harriet Johnson, Doughty Street Chambers;
Ben Newton, Doughty Street Chambers
This letter was originally published in The Times, and was also discussed in The Times Law Brief. Both can be found here and here, respectively.