CPS lawyers have finally begun to appear as prosecutors in the crown courts – a full 17 months after they were originally granted extended rights of audience.
Although the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay granted CPS solicitors limited crown court rights of audience in March 1997, the service has had to clear a series of hurdles before finally being able to deploy its solicitors in the courts.
The way was finally cleared for the 95 solicitors, who have so far qualified as higher court advocates, when the CPS agreed a set of ethical principles governing their conduct with the Attorney General, John Morris QC, in August.
A group of three solicitors from the Merseyside CPS office were among the first to exercise their new rights when they appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on 21 September.
A CPS spokeswoman said that prosecutors were being deployed locally as “needed”. She said a further batch of 55 solicitors was currently going through the higher court advocacy training programme.