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Frances Swaine secures compensation from CPS

Breach of human rights by CPS results in payout

Posted on 04 August 2010

Frances Swaine, partner and head of the human rights department at Leigh Day and solicitor Emma Jones, have successfully challenged the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over a decision the CPS took to abandon a trial one hour before it was due to go ahead.

Frances and Emma represent a client, X, a young woman who has Asperger’s Syndrome and has been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is on the autistic spectrum. However, our client is well able to communicate, has a reasonable understanding and verbal skills.  X attended a college for young people with learning difficulties and very sadly was sexually assaulted there. Following these attacks the police submitted a report to the CPS.

X had been assessed by various professionals as being competent to give evidence that could be relied up by the court and the CPS duly prepared a case against X’s attacker. 

However, on the day of the trial, only an hour before it was due to start, the CPS prosecutor took the decision not to offer any evidence, or treat X as a competent witness.  Understandably X and her family were shocked and upset by this decision having prepared carefully for the trial which was to have been the culmination of a traumatic series of attacks.  They felt that X was being denied justice and were in despair.

X and her family could not understand why the CPS took the decision to withdraw from the trial at such short notice and launched a judicial review of this decision claiming that X’s rights under s.3 of the European Convention of Human Rights,  had been breached. 

The CPS has now reviewed the decision that it took and has accepted that it was mistaken when it pulled out of the trial. The CPS has agreed to apologise to X, and to pay compensation.

Frances Swaine said of the settlement:

“No-one, whether or not they are autistic, should be denied access to justice.  Every citizen of the UK should also expect to be treated with dignity and respect by the state bodies and organisations running the justice system.  X and her family felt that they had been treated poorly by the CPS who seemed unwilling and unable to explain their decision to them.  I welcome this apology by the CPS.”

For more information please contact Emma Jones or Frances Swaine on 020 7650 1200.

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