Government starts search for next top prosecutor

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The Government has begun its search for an “extraordinary candidate” to steer the Crown Prosecution Service through Brexit and the disclosure crisis.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC launched a recruitment campaign to find the next Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Wednesday.

It follows the announcement that the current DPP Alison Saunders will stand down in October at the end of her five-year term.

Mr Wright said: “In recruiting the next DPP we are looking for an extraordinary candidate.

“The job requires excellent legal judgement, the ability to lead a large organisation and the capacity to work with others in improving the criminal justice system as a whole.”

In a briefing for prospective candidates, the Attorney General set out the challenges facing the CPS in the coming years.

They include: the need to “work collectively” to prepare for the UK leaving the European Union “to ensure ongoing international cooperation”; an increasing number and complexity of prosecutions including in relation to sexual abuse, fraud and terrorism; the use of digital technology and disclosure; and the continued implementation of court reform.

Key responsibilities for the DPP include setting the vision and policy for the CPS, which has a workforce of around 6,000 around England and Wales.

The successful candidate will be appointed for an initial five-year term and paid a salary of £206,000 a year, subject to satisfactory completion of security and other checks.

The role is open only to UK citizens with at least 10 years post-qualification experience as either a barrister or solicitor in England and Wales.

Applications will be sifted by a panel chaired by First Civil Service Commissioner Ian Watmore.

After panel interviews, candidates deemed to be “appointable” against the job criteria will be put to the Attorney General for a final selection.

The other members of the panel are Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, President of the Queen’s Bench Division Sir Brian Leveson and Monica Burch, lead non-executive director at the CPS.

Ms Saunders hit back at criticism of her tenure after her departure was confirmed at the weekend, dismissing suggestions that she is leaving the post because the Government refused to renew her contract.

In recent months the CPS, along with the police, has come under sharp focus over failings on the disclosure of evidence that rocked confidence in the criminal justice system.

A number of defendants facing rape allegations had the charges against them dropped when critical material emerged at the last minute.

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