On 20 July 2018, the House of Commons Justice Committee released their report on the Disclosure of Evidence in Criminal Cases. Matthew Hardcastle, an Associate in our Criminal Litigation team, acted as a specialist advisor to the Committee during this inquiry.

We adopt and applaud the Justice Committee’s thorough and searching report. For too long, disclosure in criminal cases has been a Groundhog Day battle for fairness. For too long, the burden has been shifted to the defence to fight for access to material which should be properly provided. We have been at the forefront of this battle, but it is a battle that the defence should not have to fight for every case. Fairness is a right and not a privilege in the criminal justice system.

As the Justice Committee’s report is being digested and considered, there have been a series of national articles expressing outrage at the current position and demanding change, with headlines including “Time to act on failures of disclosure”, “Restore faith in the CPS” and “Hundreds of convictions for rape to be revisited”.

We approach a unique moment in the criminal justice system with a newly appointed Attorney-General (Geoffrey Cox QC) to be joined by a newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions (Max Hill QC) and a new Director of the Serious Fraud Office (Lisa Osofsky). For such a whole-scale change in the senior leadership of the national prosecutorial bodies to occur in the heart of a renewed public discourse on disclosure presents an opportunity for real change which should not be missed. We will continue to watch, contribute and hold them to account where necessary.