Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
Does the CPS need a review in deciding whether to pursue rape cases?
Reported by Paige Waters
A woman made an allegation of rape in 2017 in which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) wrote a letter to the claimant explaining they had made the decision to not bring a case against the defendant due to her delay in reporting her alleged assault, her articulacy and her assertiveness.
This was after the police had initially charged the defendant on the grounds that there was ‘reasonable suspicion he had committed rape’. The victim has stated that she was attacked after accepting a lift from a man in the early hours of a February morning in 2017.
The CPS said that due to her not reporting the attack until 10 months later, this was a significant factor in its decision to not pursue the prosecution.
The exact words used in the letter were: “A defence barrister could suggest that the delay in reporting the allegation for such an articulate and assertive individual as you is puzzling.”
It has been queried whether the CPS are attempting to ‘second guess’ how juries will behave. This stems from the letter sent to the claimant explaining their concerns on how the victim would be portrayed by the defendants’ team.
Following this, it has been reported the CPS are facing a judicial review challenge over an alleged change in policy which is being blamed for the outstanding decrease in the number of rape cases making it to court.
Find out more here.
Criminal Barrister Strike Potentially Averted after Government Promises Pay Rise
Reported by Oliver Grazebrook
On 7 June 2019, it was reported that in a poll of 2,700 Criminal Bar Association members (around 80% of active criminal barristers), 94% had voted in favour of a national walk-out on 1 July in protest at low pay in the profession. This would in effect bring the criminal justice system to a halt for the day.
In recent years, the Ministry of Justice has endured deeper cuts than any other government department, with legal aid budgets suffering particularly badly. With some barristers being paid as little £46.50 for a day in court, this has had a devastating effect not only on the livelihoods of practicing criminal barristers, but also potentially on the future of the profession, with young talent increasingly rejecting the criminal bar as a viable career option.
However, on 12 June 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice, Attorney General, Criminal Bar Association and the Bar Council issued a joint proposal, including a “fundamental review of the criminal legal aid system”, which will be reported on next year and an accelerated package of interim measures, which will apply from 1 September 2019. These interim measures include raising the minimum fee from £46.50 to £90 and changing the timeline for payment of fees.
While the members of the Criminal Bar Association have not yet voted on this proposal, meaning that the 1 July strike remains a possibility, the Association’s leadership has recommended that it be accepted. While the threat of the strike appears to have achieved some short term improvements, criminal barristers will be waiting to see the results of the more in-depth review next year and whether the government is willing to make the necessary changes to maintain the operation of an effective criminal justice system.
Find out more here.
The answer to the extremely low waiting times for organ transplants in China.
Reported by Emma Ducroix
This tribunal sitting in London has been taking evidence from medical experts, human rights investigators and others.
The tribunal was initiated by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (Etac)
This organ removal would be forced: indeed, if the transplant rate is not on an endless waiting list, it is because China would use organs from prisoners who died under mysterious conditions.
According to the court in charge of the case: “The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man.”
This practice was known to the judicial services, but they thought it was stopped, without having any formal evidence to guarantee its complete stop.
The only motivation was as follows: China announced in 2014 that it would stop removing organs for transplantation from executed prisoners and has dismissed the claims as politically-motivated and untrue.
According to some testimonies from citizens who had experienced rumours directly or simply heard them, repeated tests would have been carried out on all detainees and would be part of a medical selection process.
And especially from a former prisoner interviewed by The Guardian, she underwent physical examinations, X-rays, blood tests, questions about a possible illness, etc.
This is not direct evidence of organ removal by Chinese prisons or camps, but it is highly doubtful to see one’s fellow prisoners disappear and to receive a ban on exchanging contact details during the period of detention.
The China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who was a prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, estimated as many as 90,000 transplant operations a year are being carried out in China, a far higher figure than that given by official government sources.
Although the Chinese embassy responded to allegations made earlier this year, the court also ruled on reports of kidney extraction from prisoners executed in the 1970s, with evidence gathered from 2000 on wards.
On 21 March 2007, the Chinese state council enacted the regulation on human organ transplant. Let’s hope that China does not violate this regulation any longer. In fact, for security reasons, UK parliament had ban patients from travelling to China for transplant surgery. (More than 40 MPs from all parties have followed: Israel, Italy, Spain and Taiwan.)
Read more here.