14:25, January 14 36 0 theguardian.com

2021-01-14 14:25:04
MPs question Tory donor tipped for CPS inspector post

The government’s preferred candidate for independent inspector of the prosecution service is a Conservative donor who gave £10,000 to the party during the last general election campaign, it has emerged.

Andrew Cayley QC defended his suitability for the role of chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is appointed by the attorney general, Suella Braverman, after a committee of MPs quizzed him on the donation.

Cayley, who was the director of service prosecutions from 2013 to 2020 and prior to that was the international co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia, revealed he was a card-carrying member of the Conservative party during the pre-appointment hearing before the justice select committee.

Asked about the donation by Labour MP Andrew Slaughter, Cayley said: “I have a very firm view about the democratic process. I lived in a country in south-east Asia where you wouldn’t even be interviewing me unless I was a signed up member of the ruling party, thank God we don’t live in a country like that.

“I felt free to give that donation. The Conservative party is a party I support. I’m not active within the Conservative party. I am a card-carrying member of the Conservative party.

“I took a number of decisions when I was working for the Service Prosecuting Authority that didn’t make the government very happy at all, in terms of the Iraq [war] cases, the investigation into members of the armed forces.

“My view is I should be free to give donations to political parties I support. I certainly don’t believe it effects my independence.

“If you look at the current leader of the Labour party [Keir Starmer] he went from being the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to gaining one of the safest Labour London seats in about 15 months, and I don’t think anyone questioned that.

“I think as long as things are done fairly, as long as my independence is proven, which it is, I don’t think there are any issues with that at all. I certainly don’t have any intentions in this job to be politically active but after that who knows?”

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate inspects the CPS and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The inspectorate has looked at a wide range of issues ranging from disclosure issues, domestic abuse prosecutions, youth crime and handling of rape cases.