A major review has been ordered into the way the prosecution in a police corruption trial was handled.
Eight officers were cleared of perverting the course of justice after a judge at Swansea Crown Court ruled they could not get a fair trial.
It had been alleged that the former South Wales Police officers had manufactured the case against five men – three of whom were jailed for life before being released on appeal.
The retired officers all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were cleared after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) offered no evidence against the defendants.
It emerged that files relating to complaints by a murder trial defendant had been destroyed – a revelation which called the trial’s disclosure process into question.
The trial – relating to the 1988 hunt for the murderer of Lynette White in Cardiff- had already been sitting for five months when it collapsed in December and had cost an estimated £30m.
Today, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, ordered a full inquiry into the trial.
“Shortly after the collapse of this trial I initiated a full and detailed review of the circumstances in which the decision to offer no further evidence was made,” said Mr Starmer. “I asked leading counsel for the prosecution to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the decision.
“I have now considered that analysis and as part of the review have decided to ask Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, an independent statutory body, to consider the way in which the prosecution team conducted the disclosure exercise in this case.”
Mr Starmer said the HMCPSI’s “independent review” would consider:
*Whether the prosecution team (CPS and counsel) approached, prepared and managed disclosure in this case effectively, bearing in mind the history, size and complexity of the investigation and prosecution;
*Whether the prosecution team complied with their disclosure duties properly, including all relevant guidance and policy relating to disclosure, in light of the extensive material generated in this case;
*And whether the existing legal guidance is appropriate for cases of similar size and complexity.
HM Chief Inspector, Michael Fuller, said: “It is important that the public can have confidence in the way the CPS conducts its cases and the Inspectorate will examine the issues with the utmost thoroughness. Inevitably this will take time but will be completed as soon as is practicable and a report prepared for the DPP.
“South Wales Police has decided to refer their part in this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and we will work in tandem with the IPCC inquiry into what happened. Both organizations are committed to sharing all relevant information with each other and arrangements are being made to ensure there is meaningful liaison between the two inquiries.”