An MP has questioned why the Crown Prosecution Service is spending millions on a retrial of Sun journalists “when there is clearly no realistic prospect of prosecution”.
Philip Davies quizzed Attorney General Jeremy Wright on the issue in the House of Commons yesterday.
The Commons heard that Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has been to the Attorney General “on bended knee, begging him for £50m so that she can prosecute serious cases” – as Labour MP Karl Turner put it.
Davies said: “The Attorney-General made it clear that funding is an issue and that discussions are going on with the Chancellor. Given that, is it sensible for the Crown Prosecution Service to commit millions of pounds to a retrial of journalists from The Sun when there is clearly no realistic prospect of conviction?
"The money could be much better spent pursuing some of the historical sex abuse cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander). Are the cost of a trial and the likelihood of conviction together part of a public interest test that the Crown Prosecution Service should go through, because it seems to many people that a retrial is not justified on that basis?"
Wright said: “My honourable friend will understand that, as Attorney-General, I do not decide which cases should be prosecuted or commenced. He will also understand that whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction is already part of the test that the Crown Prosecution Service applies. Of course, it should also consider the public interest, which is what it has done in each and every case involving journalists—some have been convicted at the end of the process and some have been acquitted.
"However, I think that it is important to recognise two things. First, there should be no cases in which who a person is or what they do prevents the Crown Prosecution Service following the evidence where it leads—it should do so in every case. Secondly, some cases are complex and difficult and take time to prepare and to try, which increases their cost, but I do not think that we can say that we should not prosecute something because it is too expensive."