A piece in today’s Sunday Times:
Two men who were wrongly accused of rape have criticised the award of a damehood to a former director of public prosecutions (DPP) after the “catastrophic mistakes” made in her time at the helm.
Liam Allan, 24, and Samuel Armstrong, 26, said the decision to honour Alison Saunders, 58, was a “kick in the teeth”, and last night issued a direct plea to her to turn down the title.
Saunders quit her post last year after a number of controversies, including the collapse of a series of rape trials as a result of the late disclosure of evidence, leading to a review of every rape case in the country.
In the new year honours list, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath for services to criminal justice.
In a statement shared with The Sunday Times, Allan and Armstrong said: “The decision to hand the woman who presided over our misery a damehood is a kick in the teeth. Such an award demeans other recipients, given the catastrophic mistakes made under her reign.”
While the pair cautioned that they did not wish “ill will to anyone”, they said Saunders’s “acceptance of this award” would “simply disregard” the suffering of victims. “It will show there is no remorse, no intention to change, no hope of a better future for the criminal justice system,” they added.
Allan, a student, was cleared of rape two years ago after the prosecuting barrister unearthed evidence that vindicated him and should have been disclosed to his lawyers.
His trial collapsed after just three days when a computer disc containing 40,000 messages revealed the alleged victim pestered him for casual sex.
Armstrong, a Tory MP’s chief of staff, was cleared of raping a woman in a House of Commons office after evidence was disclosed just eight days before the start of his trial.
Phone records revealed that hours after the alleged attack she had tipped off a newspaper to try to get a sympathetic account of her story published.
In the emotionally charged statement, the pair said: “We will carry dark memories for the rest of our lives and the psychological trauma is something that still, even to this day, has an effect on our day-to-day living. Weeping for over a year takes its toll.
“The justice system failed us. Now it seems the honours system will fail us too.”
Saunders also attracted criticism for the handling of other sex crime allegations and investigations during her term, including claims made against Greville Janner, the late Labour peer, and the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was paid a settlement over his wrongful arrest as part of Operation Yewtree.
Daniel Janner, a leading QC and the son of Lord Janner, said Saunders’s gong was “appalling” and “brings the honours system into disrepute”.
Saunders insisted her honour was for “30 years of public service” and said she did not know why she had not received an honour when departing the CPS.
But in a direct plea to her, Allan and Armstrong said she “now has a choice whether to accept this award. Any truly honourable person in her position would know, she must refuse this damehood. Accepting it will heap injury on those already wounded by her crusade.
“We call on Alison Saunders to undo the injury wrought — please do not accept this award.”
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