Prosecution service slammed over case decisions

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BRADFORD’S most senior judge has slammed the Crown Prosecution Service over its handling of a case arising out of the English Defence League’s demonstration in the city last year.

Honorary Recorder of Bradford Judge James Stewart QC had been due to sentence a Blackburn man accused of throwing stones towards police officers during the protest in August 2010.

However he was forced to adjourn the hearing yesterday after making complaints about the lack of witness statements and important evidence in the case.

The judge also queried why Michael Currie, 28, had been charged with affray rather than violent disorder.

Judge Stewart said the case was “unsatisfactory”.

He added: “This is a major disturbance and should not be treated like parking without lights.”

The judge said he was unhappy with the way the case had been presented and the information he had at present was inadequate.

“This was, on the face of it, a major civic disturbance and has to be approached by the court very responsibly both from your point of view and society’s point of view.”

The judge told prosecutor Richard Walters that he believed that “a little more thought” should have been given to the charge and the preparation of the prosecution case.

Judge Stewart said he wanted Mr Walters to investigate the circumstances surrounding the charging decision.

Currie, who has already pleaded guilty to the affray allegation, had his bail extended to a further sentence hearing.

Yesterday Michael Wrigglesworth, of the CPS, said: “The case was reviewed by two very experienced lawyers in consultation with West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team.

“We remain satisfied that the correct charging decision was made in accordance with our public order charging guidance.

“We will be investigating the issues Judge Stewart raised with regard to the evidence we presented in this case.”