New head of CPS has drugs and speeding convictions

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The Independent Online

A leading barrister recently appointed as head of the Crown Prosecution Service has two criminal convictions, it was revealed last night.

Ken Macdonald, QC, who was named as the new Director of Public Prosecutions last week, was convicted of possession of 0.1g of cannabis at the age of 18. In a separate incident two years ago, Mr Macdonald, 50, was also fined for speeding in a 50mph zone.

His convictions came to light only days after his appointment prompted accusations of cronyism from politicians, because of his links to Cherie Blair as a founding member of her legal firm Matrix.

Last night, politicians questioned the suitability of appointing a man with a criminal record to the position of the nation's top prosecutor.

Oliver Letwin, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "There may be public disquiet about the appointment of a chief prosecutor who has himself been prosecuted in the past."

David Davis, the shadow Deputy Prime Minister, added: "The question that has to be asked is whether it was him who made this known in the appointment process. If he did, what on earth are they doing employing someone as DPP with a criminal record?"

However, the Attorney General's Office said last night that the selection panel had been made aware of Mr Macdonald's two convictions before offering him the position. A spokesman said: "It was also declared when Mr Macdonald applied to join the Bar and when he applied to become a QC, and when he was appointed a part-time judge in 2001. It was not a bar to any appointments."

Mr Macdonald received his first conviction on 7 December 1971, after he was caught sending 0.1g of cannabis - valued at 25p - in the post to a friend.

After pleading guilty, he was convicted of possession and procuring a drug, for which he received a £50 fine and £5 costs.