Charges only left to lie on file in exceptional cases
The DPP, Keir Starmer, has changed the CPS guidelines on prosecuting rape charges linked to murder so that they will only be ‘left to lie on file’ in exceptional circumstances.
Leaving charges ‘to lie’ means that there can be no further proceedings without leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal.
Writing in The Times today, Starmer said the guidelines were changed following meetings with the parents of Jane Clough, who launched a campaign after their daughter was killed by her ex-partner while he was awaiting trial for raping her.
“I have had several meetings with Mr and Mrs Clough and they made clear to me the sense of injustice that families of victims feel when a rape charge is not prosecuted after someone admits to killing their loved one.
“I agreed with them on the need for victims’ families to feel justice has been done in these very distressing cases.”
“The public can now see for themselves what issues prosecutors will take into account when deciding whether a rape charge linked to murder will be left on file,” Starmer said.
“Due to the seriousness with which the CPS regards rape, rape counts should be prosecuted in all but the most exceptional circumstances.
“Consultation with the victim’s family will also usually be essential. Prosecutors will explain all the issues and the implications of any decisions and will invite the family to express their views, which will be carefully considered and taken into account before making a decision.”
Starmer added that, as part of their ‘Justice for Jane’ campaign, Mr and Mrs Clough had also campaigned for a change in the bail laws, to allow a prosecution right of appeal where there is a Crown Court decision to allow bail.
Starmer said this had been included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, expected to come into force later this year.