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Prosecuting Special Crime

Deaths in custody, allegations against the police, corporate manslaughter, medical manslaughter, serious public corruption, election offences, appeals to the House of Lords and extradition are just some of the types of cases dealt with by specialist Crown Prosecutors in the Special Crime Division.

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Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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Prosecution of Philip Woolas not in public interest

21/03/2011

Former MP Philip Woolas will not be prosecuted in relation to statements he made about an opponent during the 2010 General Election in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has a statutory duty under the Representation of the People Act 1983 to make inquiries and begin proceedings if required after he is notified that an electoral offence may have been committed.

Section 106 of the Act prohibits making false statements about the personal character or conduct of another candidate during a campaign for the purposes of affecting the election.

The election of Mr Woolas was declared void by the Election Court on 5 November 2010 because of statements made by him.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considered the judgment of the Election Court and has decided a police investigation into his conduct is not required as a prosecution would not be in the public interest.

Simon Orme, reviewing lawyer for the CPS Special Crime Division, said:

"The Election Court has already decided that Philip Woolas did make false statements about an opponent. As a result, Mr Woolas lost his seat in Parliament and was banned from standing for election for three years.

"When deciding to prosecute, we must consider whether a sufficient civil penalty has already been imposed on the suspect. In the circumstances, I have concluded that the serious nature of the allegations has been adequately addressed and it is unlikely that a criminal court would impose any significant further penalty. On that basis, a prosecution is not needed in the public interest."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. The duty of the Director of Public Prosecutions to make inquiries into possible election offences and institute proceedings as required is set out in statute under Section 181 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
  2. An offence under Section 106 of the Act is punishable by up to a £5,000 fine at the magistrates' court.
  3. All of the public interest factors that can weigh for or against a prosecution can be found in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (www.cps.gov.uk/code). The factors against prosecution in this case included: 4.17 (a) the court is likely to impose a nominal penalty; and 4.17 (c) the suspect has been subject to any appropriate regulatory proceedings, or any punitive or relevant civil penalty which remains in place or which has been satisfactorily discharged, which adequately addresses the seriousness of the offending and any breach of trust involved.
  4. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  5. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  6. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 12 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  7. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website
  8. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media