According to reports, Chief Prosecutor for England and Wales Alison Saunders has said she does not think anyone is in jail after being wrongly convicted because of failures to disclose crucial evidence.
Her remarks follow a string of cases which have collapsed after police and prosecutors failed to disclose important evidence to the defence team exonerating the defendants.
God loves to see earthly justice
The Bible says Almighty God appointed human justice, so this is a serious matter (KJV):
Psalm 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Further scriptures show how seriously God takes the administration of justice in a realm:
Exod 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Prov 21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
The prophet Isaiah leaves us in no doubt about the requirements of earthly justice:
Isa 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
And Isaiah even says the Messiah, Jesus Christ himself, demands and brings justice:
Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
‘Do that which is good’
In the New Testament we read that rulers and judges are ministers of God to execute his judgement.
Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Towards the end of last year two rape cases collapsed because the prosecution failed to disclose crucial evidence. This was mainly from text messages. Crucially, it exonerated the defendant. We reported on these cases in our January newsletter. (We send a copy free to paid-up members of Christian Voice. Click here to join) Each time, the case began with a false accusation of rape.
In August last year, a woman was jailed for inventing rape claims to get attention from her lesbian lover. The judge sent Jemma Beale down for ten years. We reported on an earlier case where a woman received 18 months. Louise Johnson accused Andrew Tutty of rape, attempted rape, assault and harassment after he ended their brief affair.
It is not just women who make false accusations. Disturbed young men can make homosexual allegations. One of the more shocking was that of David Bryant, a retired fireman who spent four years in jail after a false allegation. Mr Bryant was convicted on his accuser’s word alone. As we report here, he was released in 2016 only after new evidence came to light and a sustained campaign by his wife Lynn.
We reported on Mr Bryant’s ordeal in the Christian Voice newsletter in 2016. You will find our report online here.
Believe the accuser
False accusations of rape are easy to make and have been around from the earliest days. Here is what Potiphar’s wife did after she failed to seduce Joseph, grabbing hold of his cloak and seeing him run from the room:
Gen 39:14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
Potiphar believed his wife on her word alone and sent Joseph to prison. This righteous man did well there, but that’s another story.
Given the scope for false allegations, police and prosecutors should be all the more careful. Nevertheless, they have adopted a ‘believe the accuser’ mindset.
The situation is worse in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than Scotland. South of the Border, prosecutors need no corroborating evidence before a case may be brought. Accordingly, they can – and do – proceed on the basis of ‘her word against his’.
Chief Prosecutor ‘complacent’
The Chief Prosecutor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The problem we have found recently is around the ever-increasing use of social media, all the digital material we obtain.’
Asked if it was possible there were people in prison today because of disclosure failures, Ms Saunders astonishingly replied: ‘I don’t think so because what these cases show is that when we take a case through to trial there are various safeguards in place, not least of which the defence indicating what their defence is going to be.’
Many observers would say that is not just complacent but plain wrong. The most important safeguard is not the defence telling the prosecution what their defence will be. It is the police and prosecution disclosing all the evidence!
Do not convict the innocent
The word of God sets forth a basic principle of justice – not to convict the innocent:
Exod 23:7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
The Bible says this about perjury:
Deut 19:18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
Evidence disclosure failings
Diligent inquisition requires all the disclosure of all the evidence. Moreover, the BBC reports today on all cases dropped over evidence disclosure failings. The number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed because of a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence increased by 70% in the last two years.
Last year, prosecutors dropped charges against 916 people over a failure to disclose evidence. The dropped charges against 537 in 2014-15.
Reporters obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act. They reveal the total number of people whose trials have ended or the charges against them dropped. In every case this was because of a failure to disclose evidence:
Over those four years, the number of completed prosecutions fell by almost 150,000 cases – from more than 736,000 in 2013-14 to just over 588,000 in 2016-17.
Contrary to the complacent response of Alison Saunders, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted the justice system had ‘systemic’ problems. A CPS spokesperson defended the number of dropped cases due to evidence disclosure failures. He said they represented just 0.15% of the total number of prosecutions. However, he went on:
‘That is still too many … and we are clear that there are systemic disclosure issues across the criminal justice system which will require a collective effort in order to bring about improvement.
‘Getting this right is a priority, and along with the police and other criminal justice partners we are working to improve how we fulfil these vital disclosure obligations.’
Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, blamed a ‘lack of investment, training and attention to the criminal justice system’.
She said barristers face ‘A daily struggle in respect of disclosure, delays and all the other disastrous consequences of a system that is openly described by MPs as at breaking point’. ‘The reasons for it must be properly explored and dealt with,’ she went on.
Anna Soubry is a long-serving Conservative MP and a barrister. @Anna_Soubry tweeted: ‘Appalled at the ill informed comments of #DPP Alison Saunders. There hv been longstanding problems w disclosure’ Anna Soubry said she feared Mrs Saunders was ‘part of the problem’.
Continue to pray for the administration of justice in England and Wales. In our January newsletter we stressed the need to bring back the need for corroborating evidence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, our Scottish readers must defend it in Scotland. Scotland has its own legal system. A recent attempt to abolish the need for corroborating evidence north of the Border failed. We reported on that in our January newsletter as well. We have already sent it to members. If you are not a member and did not receive it, click below to support and join us: