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Barrister Alison Saunders is to take over as Director of Public Prosecutions, becoming the first crown prosecution service lawyer to be promoted to the top slot.
Currently chief crown prosecutor for London, Saunders will take over from Keir Starmer QC when he stands down in the autumn.
Attorney general Dominic Grieve QC made the announcement earlier today, saying the internal promotion was “proof of the high quality of the professionals that work within the service”.
Leading criminal practitioners welcomed the appointment. Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal law at Kingsley Napley, reacted by describing Saunders as “a first class lawyer with great experience and a thorough understanding of the way the CPS works. This appointment … demonstrates you can join the CPS as a newly-qualified solicitor and eventually become DPP”.
Saunders qualified at the bar before first working for Lloyds of London and then joining the CPS when it launched in 1986. For five years from 2005 she headed the CPS’s organised crime division, dealing with the most serious offences, including human trafficking, immigration, drugs-running, counterfeiting and money laundering, and confiscation of criminals’ assets.
She was appointed London’s chief crown prosecutor in December 2010, taking responsibility for the largest CPS area accounting for nearly a quarter of the service’s national caseload.
Saunders as has prosecuted many high profile and complex criminal cases, including that of “railway rapist”, David Mulcahy, who was convicted of a spate of sex attacks and murders during the 1980s. He role in that prosecution featured in a 2001 television documentary.
She also did a stint as chief crown prosecutor for Sussex, and in 2003 served as deputy legal advisor to the attorney general before rejoining the CPS two years later.