Wednesday, May 20, 1998 Published at 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Chief prosecutor to quit post
CPS staff are said to have lost confidence under Dame Barbara Mills
The Director of Public Prosecutions Dame Barbara Mills QC is to leave her post early.
The Attorney-General John Morris QC says he agrees with Dame Barbara that "now is the best time for a change".
Dame Barbara intends to leave her post earlier than expected to allow a successor to be in place for a government-backed re-organisation plan, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Wednesday.
She added: "It is important that a new management structure should be put in place by the team who will see it through."
The Crown Prosecution Service, which in England and Wales decides whether criminal cases are taken to court, is currently divided into 13 areas. Under government plans announced last summer, it is to be divided into 42 areas - corresponding to the number of local police authorities.
However, an inquiry into the CPS is due to be published soon and expected to be unfavourable. The BBC's legal affairs correspondent Joshua Rozenberg said that, although no mention of the inquiry was made in the announcement, it is inevitable that the findings will be linked to Dame Barbara's early departure.
Sir Ian Glidewell, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, has been looking into the running of the CPS for several months. It is assumed he is unhappy with the way in which it has been run and the way it has been handling prosecutions.
The CPS has firmly denied that the report is linked to the DPP's early retirement.
The news of Dame Barbara's departure was welcomed by Sergeant Mike Bennett, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation - who has dubbed the CPS "Criminal Protection Society".
"I'm pleased she's gone - she should have gone a long time ago."
He said: "She would never listen to her critics. She increased the bureaucracy and she never in my opinion fought for the CPS - as its leader she should have.
"During her time in office her own staff said they had lost confidence in her. That's a disgrace and she should have gone then."
Dame Barbara took up her post as Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service in April 1992. Her contract, which has already been extended once, was due to end in April, 1999.
She joined the CPS from the Serious Fraud Office, where she was director for 18 months, from September 1990.
Born in August 1940, Dame Barbara was educated at St. Helen's School, Northwood, Middlesex. She attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she was a Scholar and a Gibbs Open University Scholar.