HC Deb 24 November 1987 vol 123 cc106-7W
Mr. Hayes

To ask the Attorney-General why the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case against David Baveghens, who was subsequently convicted in a private prosecution; and if he will make a statement.

The Solicitor-General

[pursuant to his reply, 3 November 1987, c. 621]: The Director of Public Prosecutions has today issued the following statement: It is plain that the CPS can only prosecute on the basis of the evidence supplied by the police. On 27th October, Donald Baveghens was found guilty at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court and remanded on bail until today. On 28th October, certain remarks attributed to the Police Federation and to the Chairman of its Metropolitan Police Branch were reported in the Press. I have refrained from responding whilst the matter has remained sub judice. I would now like to draw attention to the following facts. On 20th February 1987, Baveghens appeared before Wimbledon Magistrates' Court, charged with a number of offences including assault occasioning actual bodily harm on PC Prescott, committed on 12th February. The papers that were subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service included a statement from PC Prescott, dated 14th March. The evidence contained in that statement was not sufficient to support the charge of assault that had been preferred. The senior representative of the CPS dealing with the matter spoke on a number of occasions to the Police, pointing out the defects in the evidence. Following an indication that Baveghens intended to contest the charge of assault, a written memorandum was sent to the Police on the 14th April, indicating the weaknesses in the evidence that was then available and stating in terms that if no further evidence was forthcoming, the charge would be withdrawn on 21st April when the defendant was next due to appear before the court. The following day, 15th April, a senior police officer attended the CPS offices and discussed the matter in detail with the CPS representative. Again, the defects in the evidence were pointed out. By the 21st April, no further evidence had been supplied to the CPS and the charge was accordingly withdrawn. Thereafter, PC Prescott commenced a private prosecution, by a summons issued on 15th May. On 18th May the CPS was provided with a copy of a further fuller statement from PC Prescott. This statement was dated 21st April, the day on which the charge had been withdrawn. The CPS utterly condemns any assault on a police officer particularly where injury is caused, and is determined to take the appropriate action in any such case. To suggest that the CPS pursues a policy of not prosecuting in such cases is wholly without foundation but this case illustrates vividly how vital it is that the CPS be furnished in proper time with the evidence that is required to support criminal proceedings.

I have considered the circumstances of this case carefully. I am satisfied that, despite repeated requests, the evidence made available by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service on 21 April was not sufficient to support the charge preferred, and that the decision to withdraw it was correct.

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