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Investigators and Prosecutors or, Desperately Seeking Scotland: Re-formulation of the ‘Philips Principle’

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Prosecution in England and Wales, traditionally private, was captured by the ‘new police’, creating an ‘English tradition’ unlike those of the rest of the United Kingdom. To overcome consequent problems, the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure recommended the ‘Philips principle’, whereby investigator and prosecutor were separate, but co-ordinate, on which basis the Crown Prosecution Service was set up. However, the principle was in fact compromised by the ‘English tradition’, most obviously by permitting continued police prosecution. Moreover, the Serious Fraud Office, set up shortly thereafter, contradicted the principle. Yet, HM Customs and Excise addressed its serious problems by applying the principle. The CPS itself encountered difficulties flowing from the compromises. Reports (Runciman, Narey, Glidewell) recommended various devices, straining the principle, until the Auld Report recognised that reformulation was necessary, along the lines adopted elsewhere in the United Kingdom, that is, by recognising that there should be investigator subordination to prosecutor.

Keywords: Criminal investigation; Fraud Trials Committee (Roskill Committee); Police; Prosecuting agency (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service/Crown Prosecution Service/Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland/HM Customs & Excise/Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office/Serious Fraud Office/Serious and Organised Crime Agency); Prosecution; Review of Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions Conducted by HM Customs & Excise (Butterfield Report); Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (Philips Commission)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Dundee

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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