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Key findings reveal catalogue of failings

Published 23/05/2015

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer was asked to investigate how the PPS handled three cases linked to the alleged rape of Mairia Cahill.

His report, released yesterday, strongly criticised the PPS. Some of the report's main findings include:

  • Insufficient case planning in these cases. This was partly due to an organisational shortcoming in relation to policy and guidance and partly due to a lack of strategic thinking and management by the prosecution team.
  • The overall delay in the sexual abuse prosecution was unacceptable. It was regrettable that the listing date of the sexual abuse trial was postponed on a number of occasions and that the delays had not been more robustly opposed.
  • Each case became weaker over time. Key witnesses pulled out, evidential leads were not pursued and the strength of having three complainants in the sexual abuse case was lost.
  • Communication with victims and witnesses was nonetheless variable and at times inadequate. These failures to communicate contributed to a loss of faith by the complainants in the PPS conduct and handling of the cases.
  • The complainants were let down by the PPS and counsel.
  • Given the failings in this case it was almost inevitable (the three women) would pull out of the process. Each of them was prepared to support their allegations at the outset, but as their cases became increasingly weakened and delayed through no fault of their own, their willingness to continue understandably diminished.

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