THE charge sheet against Alison Saunders is a considerable one after it emerged that the Director of Public Prosecutions is leaving her post and not seeking a new contract that would, in all likelihood, not have been forthcoming from the Government.
She had to exempt herself from proceedings relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, one of the most complex criminal justice cases ever undertaken in this country, after it emerged that she cautioned against a second inquest over 30 years ago in a case brought by the late campaigner Anne Williams.
She courted controversy when her decision not to pursue child abuse charges against Labour peer Lord Janner because of the health of the accused was subsequently overturned.
And, more recently, she was left with questions to answer over the Crown Prosecution Service’s handling of phone hacking cases and failure to disclose critical evidence in a number of high-profile rape trials that subsequently collapsed.
Though Ms Saunders did successfully prosecute two men for the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993, and had to contend, as DPP, with significant cuts to budgets and personnel, she increasingly found herself bereft of public trust.
This is a key public position – decisions taken by the head of the CPS are fundamental to the delivery of criminal justice and there needs to be confidence and consistency in decision-making. That said, Ms Saunders has been let down by a succession of Justice Ministers who promise new laws and rights for victims – and then fail to implement their promises. They, too, also have a case to answer.