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CPS goes back to the future
New DPP is former prosecutor who spent 20 years as defence lawyer
Why would anybody want to become the director of public prosecutions for England and Wales?
Sir Allan Green (1987–1992), the first DPP to head the newly-established Crown Prosecution Service, contrived to procure his own resignation.
The late Dame Barbara Mills (1992–1998) — not to be confused with the highly regarded KC of the same name — struggled to cope in the days before the CPS was allowed a chief executive.
Sir David Calvert-Smith (1998–2003) was told he was under a duty to step in and steady the ship.
He did; and things changed. He became a High Court judge and others saw the job as a stepping stone to greater things.
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (2003–2008) was awarded a peerage and became head of Oxford’s finest college (but then I'm biased).
Sir Keir Starmer (2008–2013) is on his way to Downing Street.
Dame Alison Saunders (2013–2018) became a partner at Linklaters.
Max Hill (2018-2023) is expected to become a High Court judge after his retirement next month.
And this morning the attorney general Victoria Prentis announced she had appointed Stephen Parkinson as the next DPP.
Parkinson, 66, began his legal career as a junior prosecutor at the CPS, progressing to become head of its international co-operation unit. I first got to know him during the time he spent in the attorney general’s office. As private secretary in the days before every government department had a press officer, he had the challenging job of speaking to reporters. Later, he became deputy head of the department.
The government legal service was sorry to lose him 20 years ago when he defected to the private sector, joining the law firm Kingsley Napley from which he retired recently as senior partner. But the wheel has now turned full circle: unlike the private sector, not all government departments believe you’re burned out in your mid-sixties.
As a former government lawyer turned politician, Prentis can see the advantage of appointing a safe pair of hands who understands the system. Unlike Saunders, though, Parkinson has shown that he can thrive and prosper as a defence lawyer too.
Stephen Parkinson brings a unique combination of legal expertise and public service at the highest levels, demonstrated most recently as Senior Partner at law firm Kingsley Napley LLP, and having spent numerous years in three of the law officers’ departments: the Attorney General’s Office, Treasury Solicitor’s Department and as a prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service itself.
Stephen has had a stellar legal career both in and outside of government as well as experience of both prosecuting and defending. Combining this with his extensive track record of leadership, I have every confidence he will be a collaborative director and a principled and independent chief prosecutor. The public will rightly expect nothing less.
He will build on the achievements of Max Hill to whom I am grateful. The role of DPP requires exceptional qualities of judgement and character. I am looking forward to working with the new director.
I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the next director of public prosecutions. Both as a prosecutor and defender I have always strongly believed in the importance of the CPS in bringing to justice and prosecuting fairly those accused of crime.
I would like to pay tribute to the work that Max Hill has done leading the CPS successfully through the challenges of the pandemic and setting a clear direction for the future. I look forward to building on his legacy.
It’s a challenging job but, like Prentis, I can’t think of anyone better qualified to take it on. What will he do next, though?
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