CPS strike threat grows as Lyell snubs talks

A ONE-day strike by CPS lawyers appears more likely following Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell QC's refusal to hold talks over the future of the service.

The CPS section of the Association of First Division Civil Servants will meet this week to discuss its response after Lyell turned down a request for talks.

A ballot for a one-day strike is a possible option.

Lyell wrote to the association last week claiming its concerns were a matter for the management.

He was approached by the section's executive committee after members passed a motion to reflect “the overwhelming view of membership that they are no longer able to properly serve the interests of justice”.

The committee has been given the go-ahead to hold a ballot for a possible “day of national protest”, but it stresses that it has not yet decided whether to act on the mandate.

Kevin Goodwin, national convenor of the CPS legal section, said lawyers employed by the service were “extremely concerned” by the Attorney General's reply.

“Lawyers feel they can no longer properly serve the public interest or the interests of justice because of the way the CPS is being run and resources are being allocated by the management,” he said.

“Accountability for the service must ultimately lie with the Attorney General, as the Minister responsible for the CPS.”

The association claims staff cuts make it impossible for prosecutors to review cases properly and it is concerned at the impact of a £9 million cut in this year's budget allocation.

An internal document leaked to The Lawyer in April which detailed a series of radical, long-term options for the service, including the dismissal of all CPS lawyers and their re-employment on fixed-term contracts, has also raised concern, although the service dismissed the document as the product of a “brainstorming session”.