DPP apologises for 'failings' in sex assault trial

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The Independent Online

The Director of Public Prosecutions today apologised to a woman for "failings" in the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting her.

The woman, who has been awarded £16,000 in damages, was wrongly blamed for the collapse of the case against her alleged attacker.

She had made a complaint following a birthday party in south London in 2006.

But the trial of the accused, in 2009, collapsed after she mentioned in evidence that he had been in prison - a fact the jury should not have been told.

She said she was never warned she could not talk about the matter.

The man was later found not guilty after the the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to offer no evidence.

The woman told the Guardian newspaper that she felt "bullied and railroaded" and had been "put through hell" over the handling of the case.

She said she was blamed for its collapse and had been forced to face her alleged attacker in court - despite believing there would be screens to shield her from his view.

The Crown prosecutor in charge of the case initially accused the woman of "deliberately disclosing" to the jury that the defendant had been in prison.

After she sought a judicial review, it was accepted that the CPS had been in breach of Article 3 of the UN Convention on Human Rights.

Keir Starmer QC, the DPP, said the woman had received a personal apology from the CPS.

He said: "I am extremely disappointed with the way in which this case was dealt with and I am very sorry for the distress these failings have caused the complainant. I am determined this will not happen again."

The Guardian said the specialist prosecutor who led the case, along with her her manager, had been removed from working on rape and sexual assault cases.

A panel will consider next month whether the barrister should continue to take on such cases, the newspaper said.

The woman, who said she was not consulted on the decision to offer no evidence in the case, told the Guardian: "The CPS allowed me, a vulnerable witness, to be crucified in open court in front of my assailant. The psychological and emotional damage was catastrophic: I slipped into major depression and felt suicidal."

She said the apology meant "an incredible amount".

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We have not received any complaint regarding this case, including from the CPS. We will make contact with the CPS now we are aware a victim has raised concerns with them."