In the Media

Top City lawyer to head crack CPS fraud unit amid storm over Jubilee Line ?fiasco?

PUBLISHED July 10, 2006

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) appointed a City lawyer to head its specialist fraud unit this week, as the CPS Inspectorate released a review of the collapsed Jubilee Line trial that claimed the service ?lacked a clear strategy for the handling of heavy fraud work? at the time of the hearing.

David Kirk, formerly managing partner of London firm Simons Muirhead & Burton, will head the Fraud Prosecution Service, which was set up in November with an interim head.

CPS chief inspector Stephen Wooler said in his report that the Jubilee Line trial ? which collapsed after 21 months last March at a cost of around ?60 million to the taxpayer ? was ?generally regarded as an expensive disaster that reflected no credit on the criminal justice system?. He said fraud had been treated as the ?Cinderella of the CPS?, without a clear strategy.

Mr Wooler noted that fraud prosecutors were managed by those with no specialist fraud knowledge, which had led to a ?breakdown in supervision?. However, he acknowledged that the service?s recent return to a specialist fraud prosecution unit was ?a step in the right direction?.

CPS chief executive Richard Foster said he accepted all Mr Wooler?s recommendations relating to the service, and had already put many of the measures in place. He said: ?In addition to establishing the new fraud unit? the CPS has already set up a case management panel, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who now oversees personally the most complex cases.?

Mr Foster added that it had also restructured the former casework directorate which dealt with the case.

Mr Wooler specifically absolved individual jury members from any responsibility for the trial?s collapse. He added that despite the ?sensitivity? of the suggestion, the Attorney- General and senior judiciary should consider adopting a peer review mechanism to ensure lessons are learnt by judges when things go ?so seriously wrong?.

The Jubilee Line trial concerned alleged fraud and corruption over contracts for the construction of the London Underground extension.