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High Court challenge to DPP over failure to prosecute 'gender-abortion' doctors

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A 22-year-old woman has brought a High Court challenge to the Director of Public Prosecutions' (DPP) "politically motivated" decision not to prosecute doctors filmed offering abortion on the basis of a child's gender.

An application for Judicial Review was made today at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Aisling Hubert, of Hove, accuses the DPP of making "politically motivated" rather than "legally based" decisions when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) first refused to bring public prosecutions and then went on to block private prosecutions of two doctors covertly filmed by a national newspaper.

Lawyers acting for Miss Hubert today told the High Court that the DPP acted illegally in not bringing a prosecution, despite finding that there was sufficient evidence to provide "a realistic prospect of conviction."

They argued that the decision was driven, not by objective consideration of the case, but by wider political and ideological considerations and amounted to unlawful overreach.

Miss Hubert is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and was represented in court by CLC's standing counsel, human rights barrister Paul Diamond.
 

'A smokescreen'

Miss Hubert says that it is the courts that should finally determine whether or not criminal acts took place, but that the DPP has denied the courts that opportunity and illegally over-reached the powers of the office by refusing to bring a prosecution, despite finding that there was sufficient evidence to provide "a realistic prospect of conviction."

She describes the DPP's claim that prosecution was "not in the public interest" as "absurd" and "a smokescreen, used to avoid a politically inconvenient course of action".

"The video evidence is stark and straightforward but for political and ideological reasons, it is being blocked from exposure to the proper scrutiny of justice in court," she says. 
 

Video evidence

In February 2012, undercover reporters from the Telegraph filmed the doctors offering abortion on the basis of the baby's gender. One doctor was filmed saying: "I don't ask questions. [If] you want a termination, you want a termination", the other said: "It's like female infanticide isn't it?"

The revelations prompted public and political outcry.

A police investigation into the doctors followed and the CPS considered prosecution.

However, whilst the CPS said that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, it concluded that it would "not be in the public interest" to bring such a prosecution.

At the time, the controversial decision provoked concern from across the political spectrum.
 

Hostile takeover

Following the CPS' decision, Miss Hubert, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, launched private prosecutions seeking justice for women and pre-born children on the basis of video evidence already in the public domain.

The CPS refused to release further video material that it had in its possession.

Miss Hubert's private prosecutions progressed to the Crown Court and summons were issued against both doctors.

In March 2015, however, the CPS announced that it would intervene to take over the prosecutions and then drop them. 
 

'Very subjective judgements'

The CPS' actions prompted concern from MPs, with Douglas Carswell telling a constituent:

"I think you are right to be very concerned about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. The Crown Prosecution Service likes to masquerade as objective, but in fact they make very subjective judgements, and I think those judgements are not always right. I think we need to make sure that the Crown Prosecution Service is publicly accountable, and this has simply not been happening."

In February 2015, David Cameron indicated that he would vote in the House of Commons against an explicit legal ban on 'gender-abortion', but said:

"But in doing so, I hope that the abortion rules are properly policed and prosecutions and all the rest of it are carried out when the laws are broken." 
 

Legality challenged

In seeking a Judicial Review, Miss Hubert's lawyers asked the court to rule on whether the DPP was acting lawfully when the CPS announced that it would not pursue a public prosecution.

If Miss Hubert is successful in her challenge, the DPP will be forced to reconsider the decision not to pursue prosecution. The cases might then be reopened with the full video evidence being considered in court in a jury trial.

Miss Hubert has also challenged the legality of a costs order of over £26,000 made against her in the private prosecution of one of the doctors.
 

'Turning a blind eye'

Commenting on the case, Miss Hubert said:

“There is a huge injustice here. There was clear video evidence that doctors were willing to offer abortion on the grounds of the child being the ‘wrong’ gender. That is against the law and yet the CPS refused to prosecute, refused to release important video evidence and then squashed my attempt to fight for justice.

“Every week CCTV footage is used by police and the CPS to convict criminals in our courts and yet, in this case, the DPP has refused to allow the courts to consider the evidence.

"Gender-abortion is a horrible practice. I brought prosecutions because those who should have done so were turning a blind eye.

"We have seen the establishment stand silent in the face of the abortion industry, hoping that the horrors will be swept under the carpet and the problems go away. But justice demands that something is done and that people are held to account for their actions. The law can only protect if it is enforced.

"The failure of the DPP to take action gives the impression that we have abortion on demand, for whatever reason."

Baby girls 'still at risk'

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, added:

“So far, justice has not been done. These doctors were breaking the law when they agreed to offer abortions on the basis of gender. As a result of the DPP's refusal to act, baby girls in the womb in Britain remain at risk. We are looking to the High Court to challenge that failure.

"The office of the DPP was created to ensure that justice was done even where individuals didn't have the resolve or resource to pursue a prosecution themselves. But here we have seen the DPP's office first refuse to prosecute and then go further still by blocking private prosecutions that were brought, as a last resort, in the pursuit of justice. This overreach of establishment power must be challenged.

“Aisling Hubert has been trying to bring to account two doctors who were prepared to break the law and allow the abortion of baby girls. Her attempts to seek justice have been persistently and vociferously undermined by the CPS. At all stages of this case, there have been major challenges, but Aisling has been determined to carry on and speak on behalf of the unborn child."


Related News:
UKIP's first MP challenges CPS over 'gender-abortion' case
CPS to take over and drop 'gender-abortion' cases 
British doctors secretly filmed providing 'sex-selection' abortions

Related Coverage:
Former DPP 'encouraged abortion on demand' (Telegraph)
Pro-lifer in court bid to prevent 'gender abortion' (Sunday Times £)

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