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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 02:47 GMT 03:47 UK
CPS chief defends costly failures
Trupti Patel
Trupti Patel said her case should never have gone to court
The head of the Crown Prosecution Service has defended the decision to pursue high cost cases which failed to secure convictions.

Director of public prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith said the CPS had been right to press ahead with high profile cases like those against Trupti Patel and Paul Burrell, who were both acquitted.

"It is not our job to second-guess the court," he told the Times newspaper.

The trial of former royal butler Mr Burrell, charged with stealing from the estate of Diana, Princess of Wales, collapsed after the Queen intervened.

The Old Bailey trial reportedly cost at least 1.5 million.

It collapsed when it emerged Mr Burrell had told the Queen after Diana's death that he had some of her possessions for safe-keeping.

'Duty to inquire'

Ms Patel was found not guilty of murdering three of her babies after a six-weel trial at Reading Crown Court costing tens of thousands of pounds.

Sir David defended the decision to bring action against Mr Burrell, telling the newspaper: "If someone complained to the police that their aunt had died and someone hadcleared out her house but was hanging on to her property with no sign of giving it back, anyone would think that was theft."

And referring to Ms Patel's case, he said the CPS had a "duty to inquire into cases where there appears to be a suspicious death".

"Babies have human rights like anyone else."

Sir David, who is set to retire later this year, also stood by the CPS's handling of the 7m Damilola Taylor murder trial, which collapsed after the judge threw out the evidence of a 14-year-old witness.

"I have always been prepared to put my hands up when I or the service have got it wrong and also there have been occasions when we have got it right," he said.

Ten-year-old Damilola died from a stab wound to the leg in November 2000. No one has been convicted of his murder.

Patel case raises questions
11 Jun 03  |  England

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