Lawyers acting on behalf of former Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutor Nazir Afzal have a dossier to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and police. They allege that Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings perverted the course of justice and committed “six offences under Regulation 6 (and 9) of the ‘Covid’ regulations”.
Perverting the course of justice
The dossier, sent to the Metropolitan police, Durham police, the CPS office in York, and the DPP, runs to 225 pages and includes eight annexes. Mary Wakefield, commissioning editor of the pro-Tory Spectator and Cummings’ wife, is also accused of committing offences.
On 30 October 2020, Afzal’s lawyers stated:
on the basis of eye witness accounts and the explanations given by Mr. Cummings and Ms. Wakefield so far, the Full Code Test is or appears to be satisfied for six offences under Regulation 6 (and 9) of the ‘Covid’ regulations, leaving home without a reasonable excuse in relation to Mr. Cummings, and three in relation to Ms. Wakefield.
the Full Code test appears to be satisfied in relation to one offence of perverting the course of justice, that arises from Mr. Cummings’ statement in the Rose Garden in Downing Street on 25th May 2020. During that highly publicised statement, Mr. Cummings made public assertions about his conduct at Barnard Castle on 12 April 2020 and his actions on the weekend of 17-19 April 2020, that appear to be wholly inconsistent with accounts of his conduct at that time obtained from eye-witnesses.
Here is an extract of the rose garden statement by Cummings:
At least three individuals claim they spotted Cummings on 12 April at Barnard Castle, with one seeing him in the town. Two others claim they saw Cummings on 19 April at Houghall woods, Durham.
This second trip is disputed by Cummings and an earlier investigation by Durham police concluded that:
there might have been a minor breach of the [Covid] Regulations that would have warranted police intervention. Durham Constabulary view this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing.
A spokesperson for 10 Downing Street commented:
The prime minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and he considers the matter closed. Durham Constabulary have made clear they are not taking any further action against Mr Cummings and that by locating himself at his father’s premises he did not breach the regulations.
Challenging the CPS
Afzal is no stranger to challenging the CPS. When chief prosecutor for North-West England, Afzal was instrumental in reversing an earlier CPS decision not to prosecute males involved in the Rochdale child sex ring. Nine men were subsequently sent to trial and convicted of “rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with girls under the age of 16”.
His work on the Rochdale case saw demonstrations outside his house by the far-right English Defence League. They wrongly believed he was involved in an earlier decision not to prosecute.
In 2007, Afzal was awarded the Daily Mirror’s People’s Award for his work on honour killings. Afzal was also CPS lead on violence against women and forced marriage, race and religious hate crimes, and child abuse and sexual exploitation, and stalking. Afzal is a member of the complaints committee of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
Meanwhile, the dossier compiled by Afzal and his legal team is with the authorities. Given the high profile of one of the parties accused, it’s imperative that the decision to prosecute or otherwise be backed up by hard and detailed evidence.
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