Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said:
“In January this year the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision not to charge PC MacFarlane in relation to an alleged racist incident involving a male in August 2011. In March, the complainant’s lawyers challenged that decision, and in accordance with standard CPS practice, Grace Ononiwu, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, directed that the case be reviewed by a more senior lawyer who was not previously involved. That review is now complete and the conclusion, based on all the evidence now available, is that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction to charge PC MacFarlane with a racially aggravated public order offence contrary to section 4a of the Public Order Act 1986 and section 31 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
“When a review shows a previous decision not to prosecute is wrong, it is open to the CPS to rectify that error by bringing new proceedings. As Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, I have taken the decision in this case that, as well as there being sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and a prosecution being in the public interest, a prosecution is necessary in order to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system. That is the test I must apply under the Code for Crown Prosecutors when reinstituting a prosecution.
“Accordingly I have advised the Independent Police Complaints Commission to charge PC MacFarlane.
“It is regrettable that the original decision was wrong, but I hope the action taken and my decision today demonstrates the willingness of the CPS to review its decisions independently and swiftly and to take appropriate action where necessary.
“We have also considered whether an additional charge of assault should be brought in relation to an allegation of “strangulation” recorded by the complainant. However, having now had opportunity to consider all available evidence including the statements of others in the van alongside the recording, the lawyer reviewing the case concluded that the inconsistencies in the various accounts of what happened were such that no additional charge could properly be added. The inconsistencies included a dispute over the identity of the officer who took hold of the complainant; the complainant said that this was one officer but all other witnesses dispute this. There is also inconsistency over why the officer, who does accept that he took hold of the complainant did so; he and other witnesses say it was in response to the complainant’s apparent aggression and in self defence. I agree with the conclusion that in the circumstances there is insufficient evidence to meet the Code test for bringing charges.
“All parties have now been informed. Can I please remind all concerned that PC MacFarlane is charged with a criminal offence and has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice his trial.
“Another allegation of abuse by a police officer against a youth at Forest Gate Police Station remains under consideration, as announced earlier this month.”