Scales of justice
The Lady Justice statue above the Old Bailey. Reuters

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is reviewing every rape and serious sexual assault case in England and Wales after it was revealed four rape trials had collapsed due to failures to disclose crucial evidence.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, announced the review yesterday (26 January) as special, emergency measures were put into place relating to disclosure to reassure the public.

Saunders said that some cases are likely to be stopped as a result of the inquiry, and that she will be "taking steps to identify any individual cases of concern as a matter of urgency".

CPS will look at all cases of alleged rape and serious sexual assault in which the accused has been charged but has not yet gone to trial.

The chief prosecutor began the review in December after The Times reported the collapse of a case against 22-year-old Liam Allan, a student studying criminology who was accused of rape, after police failed to disclose texts that proved his innocence.

"All cases are subject to regular and ongoing scrutiny, but senior prosecutors across England and Wales are currently assessing all live rape and serious sexual assault cases to check they are satisfied that disclosure obligations have been met," Saunders said.

"Inevitably, bringing forward these case reviews means it is likely that there may be a number of cases which we will be stopping at around the same time."

According to official figures 3,671 people were charged with rape in 2017.

Saunders has been summoned to appear before the justice select committee over the collapse of the trials.

The Times reports that 19-year-old student Oliver Mears was cleared of rape earlier in January after spending two years on bail, when the CPS and Surrey police handed over crucial evidence just days before the trial.

They were criticised by the case judge and ordered to explain the "completely unnecessary" delays.

Another case that collapsed led to the sitting judge complaining about a "wholesale failure" to disclose vital evidence. Medical records refuting some of the claims against the accused were only revealed six days into the trial, and 65,000 phone messages that undermined prosecutors were only handed over after two.

Lawyers representing the three people cleared of human trafficking are reported to be considering a civil claim for wrongful imprisonment relating to Christina Bosoanca, 25, a defendant who spent 14 months in custody, during which she had a baby.

"I feel really guilty having my child imprisoned when he has done nothing wrong and has such a severe illness," she said from Bronzefield prison. "I felt like a ghost because every day I woke up knowing I was innocent."