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THE DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ordered a full internal report after "obvious" errors by the Crown Prosecution Service caused the collapse of the trial of a prisoner accused of making an airborne escape bid.
Recorder David Elfer QC told Southampton Crown Court it would be an abuse of process to try Graham Jones, who is serving a four-year sentence for possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
In November 1993, Jones, on leave from Send Prison, Surrey, rented a light aircraft, crash-landed near Cherbourg and surrendered to French police. He denied trying to escape.
In January 1994, The Times reported that Jones "would face no charges". But three months later the CPS notified his solicitors charges would be pressed.
During argument at Southampton this month, it emerged that, although no formal decision had been reached, a junior CPS official had told a police officer that Jones would not be prosecuted. The officer told a freelance reporter, who sold the story to The Times.
Christopher Campbell-Clyne, defending, cited a 1994 ruling by Lord Justice Staughton that to prosecute after telling someone they will not face charges was "capable of being an abuse of process".
Elfer told the court that the CPS was also guilty of "dilatory and extraordinary behaviour" for failing to trace the French policeman whom Jones surrendered to. "I find it extraordinary that no representative from the CPS has seen fit to be in this court to explain the obvious errors. Unfairness may well have arisen."
"I hope this case will be drawn to the attention of the DPP and that inquiries will be made to ensure this situation never arises again."
Jones had denied taking without consent and obtaining services by deception. Not guilty verdicts were recorded.
A spokesman for the CPS says the judge's remarks had been brought to DPP Barbara Mills' attention and she had ordered a "full report".
CONVEYANCING clients will be issued with free information booklets alerting them to further uses they may find for their solicitors under a new scheme.
The Home Mover Completion Pack, devised by marketing firm Targeted Business Programmes, will be given to clients by around 1,000 law firms taking part in the scheme on completion of conveyancy deals.
The pack contains an information booklet on moving home along with leaflets from advertisers offering special deals on household goods and services.
The advertising pays for the free pack while the booklet contains general legal advice on such matters as planning permission and making a will.
"If in doubt see your solicitor," the booklet frequently advises.
Tony Girling, senior partner of Kent-based Girlings, and Penningtons marketing director David Hunt advised on the project.
Girling, who wrote the legal sections of the booklet, welcomes the scheme which he says provides the client with useful information and "adds value" to the service provided by firms.
So far 67,000 booklets have been sent out to participating firms across the country.
Information from TBP on: Tel 0171 731 1335 or fax 0171 371 8197.