CPS lawyer forces union vote

A FORMER CPS prosecutor has launched an unprecedented electoral challenge for the leadership of the top civil servant's union.

Tony Engel, who retired recently as a crown prosecutor after eight years with the CPS, has launched his bid to replace Baroness Elizabeth Symons as head of the Association of First Division Civil Servants (FDA) with a promise to bring democracy to the union.

In his election manifesto, Engel claims that the FDA “has been very good at dealing with high-profile issues, but less good when it comes to ordinary issues, such as stress at work, open-plan working and downgrading.”

He also alleges that the leadership attempted to “soften the blow” of the highly critical Mori poll into morale within the CPS which was commissioned by the union's CPS section.

“After heated discussions, we won,” says Engel in the pamphlet. “In future, such discussions should be unnecessary.”

His challenge is the first to be mounted by a member of the FDA against the official candidate for the post of secretary general.

In December, the FDA's executive committee nominated Jonathan Baume, a former civil servant in the Department of Employment, for the post and warned a contested election would cost the union “up to £10,000”.

Engel's bid to head the union will raise the profile of the lawyers who make up the CPS section of the FDA, headed by Kevin Goodwin, an outspoken critic of the senior management within the CPS. His prospects of success, however, are considered to be slim.

The latest clash between the section, and the management, headed by director of public prosecutions Dame Barbara Mills, is over new management pay and grading proposals to reduce the number of grades within the service from 15 to five and abolish the distinction between the various levels of crown prosecutor posts.

Details of the plans were published shortly before managers and union officials were due to meet to discuss them and has led to claims by Goodwin that its relations with the management have been “severely damaged”.

Baume has written to the CPS to complain about the publication of the plans before negotiations.