UK & World News
CPS At Risk Of More Injustices, Claims MP
A senior Conservative MP has warned that the Crown Prosecution Service is at risk of creating further injustices in the wake of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis has called on the Attorney General to launch an urgent review into the way sex offence prosecutions are carried out after former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans and Coronation Street actor Bill Roache were cleared of sex charges.
He told Sky News: "It seemed to me from both cases that there is a risk, a serious risk, that in an attempt to sort of make up for the real injustices that happened over the non-prosecution of the Savile cases the police are now possibly leaning the other way and creating a new set of injustices.
"We've seen in reports (on the Nigel Evans case) three of the complainants actually saying 'we didn't really want to complain, the police persuaded us to'.
"We've seen an MP saying that he was put under pressure to give evidence.
"All these sorts of things bring into question - is this being treated in a way which delivers justice or are we seeing the police with a weak case then trying to back it up with a load of other minor cases."
Mr Davis added that Mr Evan's case highlighted "serious concerns" about how the police and CPS operated and called for the practice of using lesser charges to "reinforce" a more serious one to be examined.
Mr Evans, Tory MP for Ribble Valley, cried as he was cleared of one count of rape, four counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault and two counts of indecent assault after a five-week trial at Preston Crown Court.
The charges related to offences against seven men, said to have been carried out between 2003 and 2013.
Friends of the 56-year-old cheered as the last of the not guilty verdicts was read out by the foreman of the jury, which had deliberated for five hours and 45 minutes.
Speaking on the steps of the court after the verdict, Mr Evans said: "As many of you know, I've gone through 11 months of hell.
"I've not been alone. Many have walked with me, including my team at Clitheroe and Westminster... Many people I don't even know have sent messages of support.
"In my darkest and loneliest times, there were only two or one set of footsteps in the sand, and those of you of faith will know, they weren't mine."
While speaking, he referred to comments made by Mr Roache who was cleared on sex offences at the same court a month ago.
Mr Roache, who was also prosecuted by authorities in Lancashire, said there were "no winners" in situations like his.
Mr Evans said: "That's absolutely right. There are no winners ... so no celebrations.
"All I can say is that after the last 11 months I've gone through, nothing will ever be the same again."
The CPS said it was "right" to put the evidence to a jury.
"The complainants in this case provided clear accounts of the alleged offending and it was right that all of the evidence was put before a jury," a spokesman said.