07:46, July 24 94 0 theguardian.com

2018-07-24 07:46:09
Terrorism watchdog becomes next director of public prosecutions



A leading lawyer in charge of reviewing terrorism legislation will be the next director of public prosecutions, and has pledged to “restore public trust in the Crown Prosecution Service”.

Max Hill QC will take up the role on a five-year term from 1 November, replacing Alison Saunders, the attorney general Geoffrey Cox announced on Tuesday.

Hill said he would step down as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation after being in the role for less than 18 months. He replaced David Anderson QC in March 2017.

Saunders, a career CPS lawyer and only the second woman to become DPP, announced in April she would leave when her five-year contract expired in the autumn.

Hill said he was honoured to take on the role, adding: “This is a challenging time for the CPS, with the rise in complex cases and negative publicity about its handling of disclosure in some cases.

“I have seen first-hand the sterling work of the CPS and I am determined to restore public trust in all of its work.”

The experienced criminal barrister has both prosecuted and defended high-profile cases from terrorism trials to homicide, violent crime, high-value fraud and corporate crime.

His record includes the last IRA case in Britain and many al-Qaida and Islamic State trials since 2004. He successfully prosecuted the failed 21/7 bombers and appeared at the inquest into the 7/7 attacks.

Cox said: “Mr Hill is a distinguished and extremely experienced member of the Queen’s Counsel who has demonstrated a profound commitment both to the criminal justice system and to public service. I am very grateful to him for taking on these onerous responsibilities.

“I am confident that he will be a good and collaborative leader of the Crown Prosecution Service and a principled and strongly independent chief prosecutor. The public will rightly expect nothing less. He will now build on the achievements of Alison Saunders to whom I am grateful for her 32 years of public service.

“The role of DPP is difficult and requires exceptional qualities of judgment and character. I am looking forward to working with the new director.”

Hill, a former chairman of the Criminal Bar Association who went to Oxford University on an open scholarship, provoked debate last year by urging the government to consider abolishing all anti-terror laws saying they are “unnecessary” in the fight against extremism.

He argued Britain “has the laws we need” to intervene, adding: “We should review them and ensure they ensure remain fit for purpose, but we should have faith in our legal structures, rather than trying to create some kind of new situation where the ordinary rules are thrown out.”

Hill told the Independent that Britain cannot “legislate its way out of” the threat from returning Isis fighters and home-grown extremists.

Saunders, who will take up a job as a partner with Linklaters when she leaves the CPS, has faced criticism during her tenure after the collapse of several rape trials following the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence.

The revelations prompted a review of every live rape and serious sexual assault prosecution in England and Wales, which found issues with the disclosure of unused material in 47 cases.

Last week, MPs criticised Saunders over long-term failings in which vital evidence was withheld from defence lawyers in rape and serious sexual assault cases.

The justice committee said “insufficient focus and leadership” led to problems remaining unresolved and that the DPP “did not sufficiently recognise the extent and seriousness” of failures within the disclosure process.

Saunders was also criticised when her decision not to charge Lord Janner with alleged child sex crimes was overturned in 2015, after the complainants demanded a review of the CPS’s assessment.

Legal proceedings ended in 2017 after six men dropped their civil claim of child sexual abuse against the late Labour peer.

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