DPP: We will look at victim support

Press Association
Saturday 25 June 2011 11:49 BST

The director of public prosecutions said he would examine how victims are treated in court after admitting the Milly Dowler murder case raised "fundamental questions".

Keir Starmer QC's comments come as the most senior police officer in the case criticised the "disgraceful lack of humanity" in the justice system following the ordeal suffered by the schoolgirl's family.

Levi Bellfield was yesterday jailed for life for murdering the 13 year old as questions were raised about the adversarial nature of the trial system, which distressed the Dowlers.

Yesterday, Mr Starmer said: "This trial has raised some fundamental questions about the treatment of victims and witnesses in the court process.

"Those questions require answers and we will be contributing to the review by the Ministry of Justice into all aspects of victim support."

Surrey Police Chief Constable Mark Rowley, whose force apologised for missed opportunities that could have led to Bellfield's arrest, said he was "upset and embarrassed" by the justice system's treatment of the family.

Writing in The Times, Mr Rowley said: "The family's experience was so exceptionally traumatic that they now regret supporting the prosecution of Bellfield. While it is, of course, in the public interest to draw a line under an unsolved murder, I understand why they feel that way.

"As chief constable, that is something I never imagined myself saying."

He said there were "systemic flaws" that must be "fundamentally rebalanced", and called for a process that enabled "the proper testing of witnesses without destroying them in public".

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