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Prosecution Decision: Kettering

Volume 695: debated on Thursday 20 May 2021

For what reason the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute the organiser of a large funeral held in breach of covid-19 regulations in Kettering in November 2020. (900283)

I understand my hon. Friend’s concern about this issue, which he has already brought to my attention. The CPS makes its charging decisions independently, with every case judged on its own merit, based on the tests set out in the code. In this particular case, my understanding is that the CPS reviewed it and determined that there was insufficient evidence to continue with the proceedings. That was because there was no evidence that the suspect was responsible for the excess numbers present outside the church.

There is widespread dismay and outrage in Kettering that the organiser of that huge Irish Traveller funeral, held during the covid lockdown, has in effect got away with it. Clearly, however, the Crown Prosecution Service cannot successfully prosecute on any criminal case unless it is provided by the police with sufficient formal evidence against the accused. Given that the court hearing was held five months after the funeral took place, will the Solicitor General confirm when the CPS received the case file from the police?

I understand the concern of my hon. Friend’s constituents, as of many around the country who are abiding by the rules, which is what has managed to get our infection rates down. To answer his specific question, the first hearing was at the Northampton magistrates court on 19 April. The police had not previously sent the file through to the CPS due to a technical error on the part of the police. The file was received at 11.30 am on the morning of the hearing.