CPS “breached Human Rights Act” when it dropped the case of an assault victim with mental health problems

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has apologised to an assault victim after wrongly deciding that because he had a mental health problem his evidence could not be considered credible in court.

In a landmark ruling the CPS was this week found to be in breach of the Human Rights Act for not pursuing the man’s case on the day of the trial.

The victim, known as ‘FB’ for legal reasons, had his ear bitten off in a savage attack seen by several people on New Year’s Eve in 2005. The attack happened after FB protested about several men smoking cannabis in the north London café where he was performing.

A man was charged with grievous bodily harm and witness intimidation but, on the morning of the trial, the CPS decided not to proceed with the case because of FB’s history of mental illness.

A judicial review against this decision was launched by FB’s lawyers and on Tuesday the High Court ruled the CPS’ decision was irrational, unlawful and in breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Act.

The High Court also awarded damages to FB with Lord Justice Toulson adding that the CPS had caused FB to feel “like a second-class citizen”.

Saimo Chahal, of Bindmans solicitors, the company that represents FB, told The Independent: “This case highlights vividly the problems that most people with disabilities, mental health problems or psychological issues experience when they try to access the criminal justice system. Defendants take advantage of this and put them through a difficult and distressing time.

“The CPS does nothing to protect vulnerable people in this situation and instead of supporting the victim they can end up siding with the defence in undermining vulnerable victims. No wonder so few cases ever get off the ground or reach a successful conclusion. It is high time this changed.”

The CPS says it will write a letter of apology to FB and has launched an inquiry into the handling of the case.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer said: “The way in which the CPS let this man down was simply unacceptable. As DPP, I intend to take steps to ensure that it could never happen again.”