One of the United Kingdom’s former top prosecutors will not be made a Dame, becoming the first in the position not to receive the honor during their tenure or shortly after they depart.
Alison Saunders, former Director of Public Prosecutions, resigned earlier this year after it was discovered the Crown Prosecution Service withheld exculpatory evidence in multiple rape cases. One of those cases involved 22-year-old Liam Allan, a London resident who three years ago was accused of rape. A year went by before Allan finally obtained information about where his case stood, and was told the detective in charge recommended no charges be filed. But two hours later, he was told he was being charged for allegedly raping the woman 12 times.
Two years went by before Allan and his attorneys were able to obtain more than 40,000 text messages from the Croydon Crown court from his accuser. The messages made clear the woman consented to sex with Allan and continued to seek more sexual encounters with him.
In another high-profile rape case, an aide to a conservative member of parliament was cleared after exculpatory evidence was finally turned over to his attorneys. Samuel Armstrong, 25, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a drunken night. CCTV showed the two walking arm-in-arm back to his office, where the two had sex. The woman suddenly began crying and left the room. Armstrong tried to figure out what was wrong, but the woman contacted police and the tabloids. She said in a text message she wanted her depression and anxiety concealed so she could get “more leeway to hide certain aspects and mould what comes out.”
The case against Oxford University student Oliver Mears collapsed after new evidence, a diary, was disclosed to defense attorneys just before the trial. A case against Samson Makele was dropped after photos of him “cuddling” the woman he allegedly violent raped were produced.
In each of these incidents, the crucial exculpatory evidence was provided to the defense just days before the trial was set to begin.
Following the collapse of these cases, all rape cases began going through an urgent review by the Crown Prosecution Service in January, 2018.
Typically, those in Saunders’ position are knighted or receive damehood while in office or shortly after they leave. Saunders was left off a list of those who would receive the honor.
Allan and Armstrong wrote a letter requesting Saunders not receive the honor, writing “We were wronged by a justice system that was supposed to protect us.”
The Telegraph reports that under Saunders’ leadership, “the number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed over disclosure failings increased by 70% in two years.”
While Saunders’ office withheld evidence from innocent men, she failed to prosecute her Labour Party peer with child sex crimes.
The case of Saunders shows what happens when “Believe All Women” infects the legal system – exculpatory evidence gets withheld and innocent men have their lives turned upside down.