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‘A reward for failure’: Controversy over damehood for ex-CPS chief Alison Saunders | UK News



A former director of public prosecutions who oversaw a series of collapsed rape trials has been awarded a damehood, leading to sharp criticism of the honours system.

Alison Saunders was snubbed by the honours committee when she stepped down in October 2018, making her the first DPP not to immediately receive an honour.

But her damehood in this week’s New Year Honours list has been lablled a “reward for failure” and a “disgrace” following a number of controversies during her tenure.

Ms Saunders was condemned after it emerged that evidence in a number rape trials had not been shared with defence lawyers, leading to a review of every rape and serious sexual assault case in the country.

As a result, 47 cases were halted.

She also faced heavy criticism after the £30m Operation Elveden probe into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials, described as a “witch hunt”, failed to convict a single journalist.

Critics also pointed to her handling of Operation Yewtree into sex abuse allegations, when a number of celebrities were cleared.

The Crown Prosecution Service, announcing Ms Saunders’ honour, said she had “dedicated over 30 years to public service” and “led the CPS during one of its most challenging periods”.

It said she had been commended for her hand in convicting the killers of Stephen Lawrence, and for her work during and after the London Riots.

Dame Alison told The Times it was unfair to describe her honour as a “reward for failure”.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith has been awarded a knighthood

“Disclosure is an issue that has been in the criminal justice system for the past 20 or so years,” she said.

“If you look at the record for the past six years all the indicators show the CPS was performing as well, if not better, than when I took it over despite [financial] cuts of a third.”

The former CPS chief joined a City law firm after leaving her role last year.

There was also controversy over former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith’s knighthood.

The MP was responsible for the government’s controversial Universal Credit welfare reforms.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy said the honour was a reward for a “legacy of cruelty and failure”.

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