Police apologise to student Liam Allan after review of collapsed rape trial
A student accused of rape has received an apology from police and prosecutors after a review into his collapsed trial found that messages undermining the case against him had been missed.
The problems with disclosure of evidence were caused by "a combination of error, lack of challenge, and lack of knowledge", a joint review into Liam Allan's case by the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service found.
The 22-year-old spent almost two years on bail ahead of a trial which was halted at Croydon Crown Court in December.
More than 57,000 messages were recovered from the complainant's phone, but only some were served in evidence.
The entire download was not passed to the defence because the officer in the case said there was "nothing relevant on it", the review said.
It is understood messages which later resulted in the collapse of the trial included some between the alleged victim and friends saying what a kind person Mr Allan was, how much she loved him and that she had had a great experience with him.
There were also references to rape fantasies, Mr Allan's lawyer Simone Meerabux confirmed.
The officer in the case admitted in an email included in the review that he had been mistaken in his belief that he looked through the whole download.
He said: "I had always made clear that there was a download but had told CPS and original prosecution counsel (named) that I had looked through it and identified everything that was relevant.
"I can only read from this that because of the volume of analysis of phone downloads I deal with, I had wrongly assured myself that I had looked through this entire download."
The officer has not been disciplined but is not currently working on sexual assault investigations, Commander Richard Smith of the Metropolitan Police said.
He added: "That is not to say we don't have faith in him as an investigator. He made an error, and we should have systems in place to address human error when it occurs."
Following the review, Mr Allan told Sky News: "I hope somewhere down the line there are consequences and lessons are learnt.
"I don't want one person being a scapegoat. There are other cases that have been dropped."
Addressing reporters at Scotland Yard alongside Claire Lindley, chief crown prosecutor for London South, as the review was published Mr Smith said: "Claire and I met with Mr Allan yesterday afternoon where he received a personal apology from us both and I was really pleased to have that opportunity to meet with him face-to-face, allow him to read the report and apologise for the errors that were made."
The review found that the prosecutor in the case had relied on the officer's mistaken belief, when they should have "probed and challenged" him.
Ms Lindley said: "This is not about resources. This is about a mistake being made by an officer and a lack of check and challenge by the prosecutor involved."
Mr Smith said: "The amount of cases he (the officer in charge) was investigating at the time, he feels, was a contributing factor to the mistake he made, compounded by the lack of recording and mistakes in the system."
Last week the CPS announced it was reviewing all live rape and sexual offence cases after a string of defendants facing such allegations had the charges against them dropped when critical evidence emerged at the 11th hour.
On Tuesday Mr Smith said the Metropolitan Police is reviewing 600 cases of rape and sexual assault.
Thousands more are under review nationally, the Crown Prosecution Service said.