Alison Saunders to quit as director of public prosecutions.
Alison Saunders – the head of the Crown Prosecution Service – is to stand down after five years in the role.
Her tenure as director of public prosecutions (DPP) has been marred by a series of controversies, most recently over the collapse of several rape trials due to evidence not being disclosed.
The disclosure failings led to a review of every rape case in the country.
The Government has sought to play down reports that it refused to renew Ms Saunders’ contract.
A qualified barrister, Ms Saunders was previously the chief crown prosecutor for CPS London.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeremy Wright said: “I want to thank Alison personally for her service, not only as DPP but as an accomplished CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) prosecutor whose successful record includes the prosecution of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.
“I have no doubt that she’ll be greatly missed within the organisation.”
A spokesman for Mr Wright told the Daily Telegraph that Ms Saunders had been “appointed for a five-year term which ends in October 2018” and she “did not ask for an extension to her contract”.
The press notification announcing her departure also pointed out that just one of her predecessors had remained in post for longer than five years.
Ms Saunders will leave the CPS in October, and will be joining the multinational law firm Linklaters.
Calling it a “tremendous privilege” to have been the first DPP to be appointed from within the CPS, Ms Saunders said her priority over the next six months was “to keep driving improvements in how we work, with a sharp focus on casework quality”.
She added: “Key to that will be working alongside the police and other partners to find long-term solutions to the disclosure issues that exist throughout the entire criminal justice system.”
Following the announcement, Ms Saunders told Radio 4: “It was my decision to leave”.
Responding to suggestions that she was leaving her post because the Government had refused to renew her contract, she went on: “DPPs serve a term of five years. I was clear that five years was a good term to serve and I have already decided what I will be doing when I leave in October.”