New Year Honours: Alison Saunders 'rewarded for failure' as former Public Prosecutions director given damehood

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Alison Saunders, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, has been criticised for receiving a damehood a year after she was forced to step down (PA)

The inclusion of Dame Alison Saunders in the 2020 New Year's Honours List has been described as a "reward for failure" following her handling of sex crime allegations and investigations.

Saunders, 58, came under heavy criticism when it was revealed police and prosecutors were not sharing evidence in sexual offence cases with defence lawyers while she held the position of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

A review found that 47 such cases had been halted because material had not been shared with defence lawyers, leading her to step down from the post in October 2018.

Saunders was accused of pursuing a “dangerous crusade" that "led to totally innocent people going to jail" (PA)

Samuel Armstrong, a chief of staff for a Tory MP, accused Saunders of pursuing a “dangerous crusade" that sought to heighten convictions in sexual offence cases - but "led to totally innocent people going to jail.”

He added: “This honour is the final insult for her victims.”

Usually, the DPP receives an honour immediately after standing down. But the reward was withheld from Dame Alison as then PM Theresa May demanded an end for rewards being given to those that had "failed" in their roles.

On Saturday, Daniel Janner QC - whose father Lord Janner was wrongly accused of child abuse - has described her damehood as "appalling" - and called her “the worst DPP in living memory”.

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He said: “She completely made a hash of my innocent late father's ridiculous allegations. These have now proved to be false like the allegation that 'Nick' made, and she presumed guilt and introduced, followed or continued a policy of all victims are to be automatically believed.

"As a result of this policy, it led to huge injustices against many well-known people and not so well-known people - people like my late father, Paul Gambaccini, Harvey Proctor and Lord Brittan, and many, many others.

"This is an appalling honour which brings the honours system into disrepute."

Daniel Janner QC - son of Lord Janner - gives a statement to the media outside the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse's headquarters in Millbank, central London (PA)

But rallying against the criticism, Saunders said of her inclusion on the list: “Disclosure is an issue that has been in the criminal justice system for the past 20 or so years.

“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 cuts of a third.” 

Dame Alison is appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath, the fourth most senior order of chivalry.

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