Andrew Castle 7am - 10am
Anti-Semitic Cases May Go Unpunished Because CPS Sat On File For So Long
14 February 2019, 11:19
Labour MP Margaret Hodge has told LBC it is “outrageous” the Crown Prosecution Service took three months to give the police the go-ahead to continue a criminal investigation into alleged anti-Semitic hate crimes in the party.
It is now more than five months since Nick Ferrari handed a file detailing horrific cases of anti-Semitic abuse against Jewish MPs by Labour party members - and still nobody has been charged.
LBC can also reveal the Crown Prosecution Service took three months to decide whether to give the police the go-ahead to carry out a criminal investigation - despite Met Commissioner Cressida Dick believing there was enough evidence to do so.
Dame Margaret Hodge has also warned the police and CPS the Jewish community and wider society is watching this case to see what action they take.
Dame Margaret said: "If they simply don't lay charges because they run out of time that would be a terrible message to people who expect the police and the CPS to pursue race-hate wherever exists.
"It's absolutely crucial and it's really outrageous that has taken over three months for them to get to this stage.
"I can't understand why they are not being really robust, tough, direct and thorough in the action they are taking. I can't understand it."
Now, LBC has been told by a leading criminal barrister that it might not be possible to bring certain criminal charges against the worst offenders because of the lengthy delays.
Charlie Sherrard told LBC: "Where you've offences that can only be tried in the magistrates' court, low-level hate crimes that maybe put out on social media, there's a six month time limit from the time the offences are brought to the attention of those who want to investigate."
In September last year, Nick Ferrari handed Cressida Dick a file of 45 cases of anti-Semitism that were being investigated by the Labour Party.
LBC had the document reviewed by Mak Chishty, who ran the Met's hate crime unit until 2017 and he found that four cases crossed the threshold to warrant a criminal investigation. Another 17 cases should have been reported to police so that the could be recorded as race hate incidents.
When the commissioner was handed the file she immediately promised Nick that she would ask specialist officers to investigate whether any crimes had been committed.
On November 2nd, the Met issued a statement saying that following that review by specialist officers a criminal investigation was now under way. The short statement also revealed early investigative advice was being sort from the CPS about whether to proceed.. That is a process that should usually take a few days, perhaps a couple of weeks at most. Instead, it has taken three months, with the CPS only giving their approval last month.
On December 4 last year, the Met Commissioner took part in a phone-in on LBC with Nick. Importantly, she said the Met thought the threshold for a criminal investigation had been crossed.
We have interviews with leading criminal barrister Charlie Sherrard QC, who says that justice is being put at risk. And we have also spoken to Dame Margaret Hodge, who has told LBC the police and CPS now need to work quickly and decide whether to bring charges.
In a statement to LBC, the CPS said: "Last month we provided the Metropolitan Police with legal advice regarding allegations of online anti-Semitic hate speech which they are investigating.
"A senior specialist prosecutor also met officers in January to discuss the case in detail.
"The CPS will consider charging possible suspects if the police decide to refer the case to us for a decision.”