Liam Allan with his mother, Lorraine Allan, and supporters at Croydon crown court. “I knew the truth,” she said yesterday after her son was cleared of all charges
Liam Allan with his mother, Lorraine Allan, and supporters at Croydon crown court. “I knew the truth,” she said yesterday after her son was cleared of all chargesBEN GURR FOR THE TIMES
A judge has called for an inquiry after the trial of a student accused of rape collapsed because police had failed to reveal evidence proving his innocence.
Liam Allan, 22, spent almost two years on bail and three days in the dock at Croydon crown court before his trial was halted yesterday.
The judge demanded a review of disclosure of evidence by the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s biggest force, and called for an inquiry at the “very highest level” of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). He warned of the risks of “serious miscarriages of justice” after hearing that, to save costs, material was not always handed to defence lawyers.
Mr Allan, a criminology undergraduate at Greenwich University, had been warned that he would be jailed  jailed for at least ten years if found guilty after being charged with six rapes and six sexual assaults against a woman who told police that she does not enjoy sex. Mr Allan said the sex was consensual and that the woman was acting maliciously because he would not see her again after he started university.
His lawyers had repeatedly been refused access to records from the woman’s telephone because police insisted that there was nothing of interest for the prosecution or defence, the court was told.
When a new prosecution barrister took over the case the day before the start of the trial, he ordered police to hand over any telephone records. It was revealed that they had a computer disk containing copies of 40,000 messages.
They showed that she continued to pester Mr Allan for “casual sex”, told friends how much she enjoyed it with him and discussed her fantasies of being raped and having violent sex.
Jerry Hayes, the prosecuting barrister, told the court yesterday that he would offer no evidence. “I would like to apologise to Liam Allan. There was a terrible failure in disclosure which was inexcusable,” he said.
Mr Hayes, a former Tory MP and criminal barrister for 40 years, added: “There could have been a very serious miscarriage of justice, which could have led to a very significant period of imprisonment and life on the sex offenders register. It appears the [police] officer in the case has not reviewed the disk, which is quite appalling.” [typical, and deliberate!]
Speaking outside court, Mr Allan told The Times: “I can’t explain the mental torture of the past two years. I feel betrayed by the system which I had believed would do the right thing — the system I want to work in.” 
His mother, Lorraine Allan, 46, a bank worker, hugged her son as he was surrounded by friends who had been lined up to give character evidence if the trial continued.
“In the current climate, in these sorts of cases, you are guilty until you can prove you are innocent,” she said. “The assumption is there is no smoke without fire.
Radhia Karaa, a district crown prosecutor, wrote to the court admitting that the handling of the telephone downloads “has fallen below the standard that we expect”. Judge Peter Gower found Mr Allan not guilty on all charges. “There is something that has gone wrong and it is a matter that the CPS, in my judgment, should be considering at the very highest level,” he said. “Otherwise there is a risk not only of this happening again but that the trial process will not detect what has gone wrong and there will be a very serious miscarriage of justice. He [Mr Allan] leaves the courtroom an innocent man without a stain on his character.”
The judge said that police must tell prosecutors about all material collected during their investigations. “It seems to me to be a recipe for disaster if material is not viewed by a lawyer,” he said. “Something has gone very, very wrong in the way this case was investigated and brought to court.”
Julia Smart, for the defence, said she received the details of the woman’s text messages on the evening before she was due to cross-examine her, so stayed up reading them. When she told the court what she had found, the trial was halted. She said she believed that evidence from phones was being withheld from defence lawyers to save money.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, has pushed to increase the prosecution and conviction of sexual offences. Rapes recorded by police have risen from 12,295 in 2002-03 to 45,100 last year but the number of rapes referred to the CPS for a decision on charging has stayed broadly static. Of the 35,000 adult and child rapes recorded by police in 2015-16, just over 6,800 were referred to police, a fall of about 690 on the previous year, according to Rape Monitoring Group figures.
A Met spokeswoman said: “We are aware of this case being dismissed and are carrying out an urgent assessment to establish the circumstances.


Piltdown Man 
Perhaps it would help the police if Council wasn’t paid £1000 per hour. Pay the lawyers less and get more justice. I was involved in a Company litigation nearly 30 years ago and ‘advice’ from Council cost us £600 an hour then so just think what it costs now.

This is absolutely terrible and surely it is unthinkable that the police and CPS staff involved should not face some sanction.  Whether the woman should be named is I think harder because of the knock on effects on others being deterred from reporting real offences - perhaps she should be tried for perjury and only named if convicted (and it is ridiculous if there is a policy of not prosecuting for perjury in these cases, as some seem to suggest).

But all of us are complicit in creating this climate in which an unverified tweet can be taken as proof of guilt.  It is terribly, terribly difficult, but we should try to remember that - to take an extreme example - Harvey Weinstein has not even been charged, let alone found guilty of anything.

Justice is one of the absolutely central foundations of civilisation, and it was a great British jurist who said it was better that 99 guilty went free rather than 1 innocent be convicted.  Alison Saunders should reflect on that.

A terribly shocking case.  Who will be held accountable ?  The police officers involved are now suspended without pay ?

Presumably the accusing woman will now be charged with slander, libel, making a false witness statement, defamation etc. etc. This lad will bear the scars for many years.

Dr Nick Cornish 
Absolutely disgusting but I wonder how often this sort of things happen.

In any case if the police have any material at all that they have not examined it should all be handed to the defence.  The failure to examine it is irrelevant.

Appalling police and CPS practice.
What I don’t understand is this: “His lawyers had repeatedly been refused access to records from the woman’s telephone because police insisted that there was nothing of interest for the prosecution or defence, the court was told.” Why didn’t his solicitors ask the court to make an order for disclosure after the first refusal so that they could check for themselves? The man’s liberty was at stake - you would insist on phone records as part of disclosure and not take the police’s word that there was nothing of interest on there, surely?

Richard Marriott 
There is something rotten at the heart of our judicial system - the police and large sections of the judiciary have become policitised and the blame for this in large part can be laid at the door of the Blair NuLabour administration. As we have seen recently, the Met Police Force has become dangerously politicised. Then we have a whole panoply of laws introduced by NuLabour which actively work against the interests of the settled, law abiding people of this country. Chief villain, was incorporating the Human Rights Act into UK law - we now have to pay compensation to foreign villains who have committed heinous offences against our own people, we cannot detain and deport foreigners who have commited serious crimes and should be deported, and yesterday the High Court ruled that EU Freedom of Movement prevents us from deporting foreign vagrants from other EU countries.

The system is mad! Time to clear out the Augean Stables is well past.

What a disgrace...........the sadly all too common shambles but one which has blighted the life of a innocent person.
The woman should be prosecuted for wasting police time and the police hauled over the coals but I doubt either will happen.

Name and shame the accuser.  The routine naming of the accused before the trial has been completed and a verdict passed has to stop too.  It can ruin innocent peoples lives.

Elizabeth Jane Mott 
The woman involved should be prosecuted immediately for making false accusations. She nearly sent an innocent young man to jail for 10 years.

Good for the prosecution barrister es conservative M P to act in an honourable way. Shame on the Police. Wonder what would have happened if the Labour deputy leader has been the prosecution Barrister

j turner 
The accuser should be named, shamed and prosecuted as this poor man has had to endure. Why should accusers remain anonymous?

This is what happens when there is so much pressure regarding sexual crimes.  Not just to prosecute, but to get convictions.

They are the most difficult crimes to prosecute successfully because so often it is one person's word against another.  It would help if politicians did not complain about the low conviction rates in order to get cheap publicity - and if the media did not play their game.

Will anyone get fired for incompetence/negligence? Will the innocent young man be able to sue the Met for the two years of hell?

Alan Jackson 
Gross incompetence by the CPS and police at best - but probably criminal intent here. Makes one wonder how many others may be languishing in jail on the back of false accusations by spurned accusers.

Charles Robson 
A recent Times article drew attention to the distinction between the (increased) number of reports to the police and the (decreased) number of convictions for hate crime. Surely this distinction should always be observed when reporting legal affairs. The sentence in the last paragraph of this article would then read: "Alleged rapes recorded by the police have risen .......... but the number of alleged rapes referred to the CPS for decision on charging has remained broadly static." There may be an increase in the actual number of rapes and the investigative process may still not be adequate, but rectifying this if true is not helped by blurring facts or, in the case reported here, ignoring them.

Edward Locke 
“We are aware of this case being dismissed...". It's good that the police keep up to date with the news. 

Joe in Suffolk 
Bet yer absolutely NOTHING will happen in the Met as a result of this.  At best,  a lowly plod will be "disciplined".  But the senior management will just carry on.  It would be utterly shameful if they get away with this - but I bet they do.

Dr Nick Cornish 
@Joe in Suffolk In the meantime what happened about that officer in the Damian Green case who kept, illegally I think, his notebook which could contain evidential material for other cases.

I wonder if that officer only kept the one notebook and, if so, i wonder why....

Sadly this is far from being the first case of its kind.

Perhaps Austen, you will read this . Best wishes.

David Stewart 
I hope the woman who bought false allegations against him gets prosecuted.She can't get away scot free.

Neil Barrett 
@David Stewart We should start by now naming her. 

A close friend (who was raped at knifepoint) is very bitter about her effect of allegations like these on those who have really suffered. The people she (and people like her) damage most are those who are real victims of this dreadful crime.

Doug H 
@Neil Barrett @David Stewart  Some 10 years ago my brother worked for the Met and and used to have to interview victims of such crimes and has echoed the sentiment of your friend many times.  

Unfortunately because so many falsely report rape they have to sometimes put the victims through thorough and repeated questioning to try and tease information to find out if they're lying. I can only imagine how a real victim feels when their claims are questioned.

Dr Nick Cornish 
@Neil Barrett @David Stewart I understand that complainants are guaranteed anonymity for life but surely, if the claims are blatant lies, that should not apply unless, of course, naive politicians never considered that anyone would lie.
If she is charged with perverting the course of justice then she should be named.

@David Stewart Totally agree and hope both the police force involved and the  lawyers involved are also prosecuted for holding back the evidence which would have cleared this young man. Given how the system is now weighted in favour of the victim, any evidence to the contrary should be seriously considered and allowed in defence of the accused. 

Mark Mass 
@David Stewart that is an excellent point and something I missed when I read the story.

The courts have jailed a number of false claimants recently, she must be jailed to prove that the rule of law is paramount

@David Stewart The same happened to our grand son,the pre- trial judge did not think there was a case to answer but the CPS went ahead. It seemed a clear case of Hell hath no fury........ X was aquitted as the women was caught lying in the witness box and had lied to her only supporter. X in the mean time had lost his job as they worked for the same firm and had not in the circumstances been able to get another. A lawyer friend estimated the cost to the taxpayer to be upwards of £500,000. No the woman was not charged with either perjury or wasting police time.

Otto Leipzig 
Us up North in the former mining areas are all too familiar with this kind of police incompetence and lying.  The Sheffield Rhino whip tortures, Orgreave false riot charges, Hillborough and the cover up of child rapes in Rotherham.
As the old saying goes "Never trust a copper", and these days add "nor the CPS"

Jon Sayers 
I agree with many of the comments here and I also believe that Alison Saunders should resign over this and many other instances of CPS incompetence. Take the case of Mark Pearson and the Greville Janner case as just two other examples.

Can a stated ambition of bringing more prosecutions and convictions in sexual assault cases be wise or fair?  Like councils asking traffic wardens to hand out more parking tickets, or as Liam Allam's mother so pithily says, like setting sales targets. 

I strongly agree that the woman in the case should be named and prosecuted - that would be proper justice and might discourage malicious claims by others.

A number of legal professionals and former legal professionals, including retired police officers, have been moved to comment here.  Could I ask that one of you - someone who knows how to word it appropriately and effectively - might consider launching a petition to ensure that the identity of the complainant is revealed in such cases and that prosecution follows? Perhaps another petition to call for the resignation of Alison Saunders? I would sign both.

Michael Fisher 
So are we wrong to infer that the CPS want more men put away to please certain people, and they don't care too much how they do it?

Richard Pursehouse 
Never mind an inquiry, how about a charge of 'perverting the course of justice' for the top police monkey in the county? And he should demand an apology from the person who accused him who should be named.

Alison Saunders has previous in this area.  It would be interesting to know if she had any knowledge of this case.   

London Resident 
It doesn't matter if she does. She created a culture where upping rape convictions was at the forefront of what she was trying to ahieve in her role.
Since her appointment there have been numerous trials abandoned that should never have been brought. In pursuing her objectives she has dragged innocent men through appalling ordeals, protected vindictive liars who have wasted police and court time and spent a fortune in taxpayers' money.
Simply unacceptable.

Ricky Freeman 
One thing I have noticed is that sometimes, getting a conviction, any conviction is the priority, especially as a high profile case can lead to a promotion.

Immediate sacking (after investigation) of all those who knew of the contents of the messages and were content to let a guy get 10 years in prison!
No easy "early retirement"!
And the guy should sue both the Met, CPS, and the lying woman!

Liam Allan's name has been plastered all over the papers - but not the woman, who has committed a dreadful crime.  Our procedures for these types of cases really needs to change, unless it's in the public interest, nobody accused of sexual offences should be named unless guilty - they should have the same anonymity as the accuser.

Bel Ami 
Good for you Jerry!  Well done, and very best from AL.

John Austin 
I first met him when I was a pupil in his chambers and he was still an MP. He have me a tour of Parliament. Great bloke. Wotcha Jerry!

Andrew Cole 
The change in the legislation putting the burden of proof on the accused was passed by MPs in the context of a political environment in which there is pressure for a higher number of convictions. What did MPs think was going to happen? 

Margaret Studer 
He has good friends and family who stood by him and I’m sure they will continue to support him as he gets his life back together. I wonder how his accuser will fare when she needs support.

Surely the woman should be prosecuted for making a false statement.  Should he not be able to sue her too for defamation and to recover the costs of his defence? 

The Dynamic Flashy 
Why is it that after a false rape accusation (or rape acquittal) the accuser remains unnamed - and more often than not, unpunished. But the (falsely) accused have their name tarnished forever?

One’s anonymity is preserved even if the allegation made is false - and therefore an offence. Yet surely offenders do not deserve anonymity. In this case, it is the defendant, not the complainant who deserved anonymity.

Sack Saunders. She has no or little interest in justice - real justice, which involves ascertaining the truth. She and her scum are concerned only with achieving "results" for the corrupt purpose of self-advancement. The lying bitch who made the false claim should be identified together with her parents and every one of those 'friends' who knew the complaint to be false and who were willing to stand by and see a miscarriage of justice. She should be imprisoned.

London Resident 
She should go. It is her flagship policy to convict more rapists and almost weekly we are seeing cases that should never have been brought to trial collapse - how many cases have successfully convicted on flawed or partial evidence?
There is a very real possibility that there are men serving sentences who are innocent as a result of pressure from Saunders down.
This is unacceptable and an appalling miscarriage of justice and notwithstanding an urgently needed investigation into the conduct of the Met Saunders should either do the decent thing and resign or be sacked.

Keith Proctor 
The CPS and the MPS should urgently investigate the extent to which the policy of 

"believe the victim and survivor" was also responsible for this near miscarriage of justice 

in this case. The student has my, and should have all our,  sympathy and understanding 


should be fully and handsomely compensated for the horrors I know he will have 

undergone over the last two years.

The College of Policing should also consider this case, and similar cases,  in their current 

review of the Henriques recommendations on belief.  The DPP should issue her personal 

apology to this man. 

K Harvey Proctor