19:36, April 01 258 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-01 19:36:07
Alison Saunders to quit as director of public prosecutions

The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is quitting when her five-year contract finishes at the end of this year, it was confirmed on Sunday.

Saunders, who has faced repeated criticism during her time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service, did not seek an extension of her contract and will leave to take up a post with a private law firm.

Her departure was confirmed by the attorney general’s office. In a statement to the Daily Telegraph, which claimed ministers were happy to see Saunders go, a spokesman for the attorney general, Jeremy Wright, said Saunders was “appointed for a five-year term which ends in October 2018” and she “did not ask for an extension to her contract”.

Since the 1980s it has been normal for DPPs to serve just one five-year term, but there were times when it looked as if Saunders might not stay the course because she was facing pressure to resign.

One of her worst moments came when her decision not to charge the Labour peer Lord Janner with alleged child sex crimes was overturned after the complainants demanded a review of the CPS’s assessment.

She faced strong criticism after most of the journalists charged as part of Operation Elveden, the investigation into allegations involving reporters bribing police officers and other public officials, were acquitted.

And recently, after the collapse of several rape trials following the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence led to the CPS announcing a review of all current rape cases, she again found herself in the firing line.

Saunders, who was a career CPS lawyer and only the second woman to become DPP, will take up a job as a partner with Linklaters when she leaves in the autumn.

A CPS spokesman said: “The criminal justice landscape is changing rapidly, as crime trends shift and courts become digital. Under Alison Saunders’ leadership, the CPS has adapted to that changing environment, maintaining performance without compromising our core principles of independence and fairness.”