Collapsed rape trials detective off active duty as Met urgently reviews 30 cases
Further cases at an earlier stage in the justice process will also be examined .
The Metropolitan Police has removed from active duty the detective in charge of two collapsed rape trials that prompted Scotland Yard to urgently review about 30 sex cases due to go to trial.
Further cases at an earlier stage in the justice process will also be examined as the force looks at every one of its sex crime investigations where a suspect has been charged.
The trial of Liam Allan, 22, was halted at Croydon Crown Court last week while on Tuesday another prosecution collapsed against Isaac Itiary, who was facing trial at Inner London Crown Court accused of raping a child.
A spokesman for the Met said: “It has been identified that the same officer was involved in the R v Allan and R v Itiary investigations.
“However, no investigation is carried out by one officer alone and all investigations are supervised by line managers. While the Met’s review is ongoing, as a precaution a decision has been taken at this time to remove the detective from active investigations.”
The force is reviewing with the CPS all cases where someone has been charged and those cases are progressing towards trial.
Around 30 cases already set for trial are being prioritised but it is not yet known how many other cases will be affected.
The Met announced a major review of its live sex crime investigations after the CPS offered no evidence against Mr Itiary.
“The importance of disclosure in the criminal justice system cannot be underestimated.” — opening words of chief inspectors’ report in July https://t.co/ywZ5MWpAaR Er, yes it can. It cannot be overestimated and should not be underestimated. But that’s exactly what has happened.— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) December 20, 2017
He was charged in July this year but police only disclosed further “relevant material” in response to his defence case statement, submitted on December 15.
A CPS spokesman said: “On December 17 2017, the police provided new material to the CPS, which had previously been requested, and this was reviewed.
“Prosecutors decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.”
Commander Richard Smith, who oversees Met rape investigations, said: “I completely understand that this case may raise concerns about our compliance with disclosure legislation given the backdrop of the case of R v Allan last week.
“The Met is completely committed to understanding what went wrong in the case of Mr Allan and is carrying out a joint review with the CPS, the findings of which will be published.”
This is one of the most important Monday Messages written by any chair of the @TheCriminalBar - powerful & troubling message from Angela Rafferty QC on disclosure after #LiamAllan case https://t.co/qZK5YnAQ1F— Mary Aspinall-Miles (@MAM12CP) December 18, 2017
Justice minister Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett it was “absolutely right” for the Met to carry out a review, adding: “The basic principle of British justice is at stake.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said the attorney general last week ordered a review to look at disclosure processes – including codes of practice, guidelines and legislation relating to sexual offences and other types of crime – which is expected to report back in 2018.
Concerns have previously been raised at the most senior level of the criminal bar that disclosure failures and lack of resources will lead to miscarriages of justice.
Angela Rafferty QC, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, suggested “unconscious bias” stops the police and the CPS “impartially and thoroughly investigating and scrutinising complaints in sexual offence cases”.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told the BBC that the use of evidence in other cases was being looked into to reassure the public.
She said: “We won’t be re-investigating all of those, but we we will be reviewing them to make sure that we have discharged our obligations in relation to disclosure – i.e. that everything that should have happened has indeed happened in relation to disclosure.”
Attorney General Jeremy Wright, who is carrying out a review into disclosure, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “We can’t look at this solely as a resource issue.
“What I think we need to do is understand that the type of evidence that is being used in criminal trials is changing.”
Referring to the two collapsed cases, he added they were “obviously appalling failures of the criminal justice system”.