Crown Prosecution Service London chief to replace Starmer as DPP

Alison Saunders, the chief of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London, has been appointed to succeed Keir Starmer as the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Saunders (pictured) becomes the first DPP directly appointed from within the CPS, and only the second woman in history to take up the role.

Saunders has been at the CPS since its formation in 1986, and was appointed London’s chief crown prosecutor in 2009 after heading the CPS’s organised crime division.

During her career at the CPS, Saunders has also held roles in the policy directorate, branch crown prosecutor for Wood Green, and assistant chief crown prosecutor. Between 2003 and 2005 she served as deputy legal adviser to then Attorney General Peter Goldsmith QC, who now heads the European and Asian litigation team at US firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

“She’s a first class lawyer, with tremendous experience of working within the CPS, and I couldn’t think of a better person to lead the organisation,” said Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal law at Kingsley Napley. “It also sends a great message; that you can train as a lawyer with the CPS, and eventually rise to the position of DPP.”

“I’m absolutely delighted that ‘one of our own’ has been appointed,” said Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for Northwest England. “It is a sign of the high esteem with which the CPS is now regarded that Alison has been selected.”

A source close to the matter said the final group of three considered for the job contained “at least one external candidate”.

Outgoing DPP Starmer is due to step down in October, after announcing in April that he would not be extending his five year term in the role. He took over the role from Sir Ken McDonald QC in November 2008, after moving from Doughty Street Chambers, where he was joint head of chambers and head of the criminal team.

The CPS is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales, and is currently headed by the Attorney General Dominic Grieve. The DPP is the most senior non-ministerial position in the body.