Top barrister named as DPP

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ONE OF Britain's most senior barristers was appointed as the new Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday, ending five months of speculation as to whom would succeed Dame Barbara Mills.

David Calvert-Smith, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, has had great experience as a prosecutor, having handled a succession of complex and high-profile homicide, terrorist, organised crime and fraud cases.

When he takes up his position as head of the Crown Prosecution Service next month, he will be taking on a post which has become known in legal circles as something of a poisoned chalice.

Dame Barbara announced she was quitting last May, ahead of the publication of a report which accused the CPS of being "over-centralised and bureaucratic". Her predecessor, Sir Allan Green, resigned after being spotted apparently kerb-crawling in a London red light district.

Mr Calvert-Smith's appointment was announced yesterday by the Attorney General, John Morris, who said the contract was initially for a five-year period.

Mr Calvert-Smith, 53, led the prosecution in the match-fixing trial of footballers Bruce Grobbelaar, John Fashanu and Hans Segers, who were all cleared, and the successful prosecution of two Palestinian terrorists who were jailed in 1996 for the bombing of the Israeli embassy in London.

He also headed the prosecution team in the trial of two Scotland Yard officers who were cleared of fabricating the evidence which led to Winston Silcott being wrongly convicted of the murder of Constable Keith Blakelock in the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985.

Mr Calvert-Smith also acted for the Serious Fraud Office against the former Polly Peck chairman Asil Nadir before the businessman skipped bail and fled to Northern Cyprus.

As DPP, his task will be the major restructuring of the CPS.