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The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

CPS Statement on Howard Martin


Durham Crown Prosecution Service has advised Durham Police there is not enough new evidence under the double jeopardy provisions for the Director of Public Prosecutions to authorise an investigation into former GP Howard Martin, acquitted of the murder of three of his patients six years ago.

 Durham Chief Crown Prosecutor Chris Enzor said: "The case was reopened by Durham Police after patients' families complained about remarks made by Mr Martin in an interview with a national newspaper.

"The law was changed in 2005 to allow those who had been acquitted of serious offences to face a retrial in certain circumstances if there is new and compelling evidence. The law allows the police to make certain preliminary inquiries but the re-opening of an investigation needs the consent of the DPP, as does an application to the Court of Appeal for a retrial. It is for the Chief Crown Prosecutor to act as the channel between the police and the DPP.

"The police provided me with evidence given at the inquest into the deaths of three of Mr Howards patients: Mr Moss, Mr Weldon and Mr Gittins, as well as evidence from disciplinary proceedings of the General Medical Council. There were also copies of tapes and interview transcripts, obtained by a court order, following comments Mr Martin made to a reporter from the Daily Telegraph.

"The areas covered by the inquest and the GMC disciplinary proceedings were broadly the same as in Mr Martins trial and no materially new issues arose. Mr Martins interviews with the Daily Telegraph amounted overall to a continued denial, not an admission, of guilt.

"After careful consideration of this material, including discussion with leading counsel who prosecuted in the 2005 murder trial, I have decided that in these circumstances there is not sufficient new evidence, as the law requires, to warrant the conduct of an investigation which must the authorised by the DPP. I have advised the police of this.

"I appreciate this has been a distressing time for the families of Mr Moss, Mr Weldon and Mr Gittins and I have offered to meet with them to explain in greater detail the reasons for my decision.

"I have also looked to see whether there is any new evidence which might support a prosecution relating to certain other patients. These cases were looked at previously and it was decided at the time there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. In all of these cases, I have concluded that there is no new evidence to allow us to start criminal proceedings."


Note to Editors

1. Howard Martin was acquitted in 2005 at Teesside Crown Court of the murder of three of his patients whilst he was a General Medical Practitioner in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.