A 21-YEAR-OLD Christian campaigner has been ordered to pay £25,000 legal costs after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took over and dropped her private prosecution of a doctor filmed offering 'gender-abortion'.
The Judge who awarded the costs refused to order into evidence existing video footage of the doctor advising a woman about abortion. The Judge's decision not to require the film to be released is said to have seriously damaged the case.
Sitting at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Martin Steiger QC, told Aisling Hubert that she must cover Dr Prabha Sivaraman’s legal costs.
In a separate development, UKIP's first Member of Parliament has severely criticised the CPS in light of the case.
Douglas Carswell told 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.
"Part of the problem is that the sort of people who work for the CPS tend to be open to what I think one might describe as secular extremism. I do not think they share our values, and I think we need far-reaching reform of the Criminal Justice System to make sure that public prosecutors are properly accountable to the public," he continued.
In February, David Cameron indicated that he would vote 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."
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, commented: "We need David Cameron to take political leadership and call on the CPS to reinstate the prosecution."
'Refusal to prosecute'
Dr Sivaraman was filmed by a national newspaper in 2012 offering 'gender abortion'. The case was highlighted by the Telegraph and has been mentioned in the House of Commons.
However, the CPS refused to prosecute, despite concluding that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. At the time, the CPS' decision provoked cross-party concern.
Following the CPS decision, Miss Hubert, backed by the Christian Legal Centre, launched a private prosecution seeking justice for women and pre-born children.
However, Judge Martin Steiger QC refused to order the release and submission of additional video material that was already in the possession of the CPS.
The case was then derailed by the CPS after it mounted a hostile takeover of the prosecution and dropped it.
Following the CPS' withdrawal of the case, Judge Steiger awarded costs against Miss Hubert, whom he had described as a "straw-man."
Dr Sivaraman, 46, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at North Manchester General, was suspended from Pall Mall Medical, a private abortion clinic on King Street, following the article in the Daily Telegraph in 2012.
She appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court in December, accused of conspiracy to procure poison to be used with intent to procure abortion, under the Offences Against the Person Act, before the case against her was dropped.
Sex-selective abortion is illegal in Britain since the baby's gender is not a legitimate ground under the 1967 Abortion Act.
However, there is now renewed debate over whether the law is clear enough. In February, Labour MPs led by Yvette Cooper derailed an attempt to introduce an explicit legal ban on 'gender-abortion'. David Cameron also made clear his opposition to the move.
'Turning a blind eye'
Miss Hubert, 21, from Brighton, had previously spoken of her disappointment at the CPS’s decision to intervene in the private prosecution.
She had also lodged a case against Birmingham doctor Palaniappan Rajmohan, who also featured in the national newspaper’s investigative report. However, the CPS has used its power to quash that private prosecution, again citing a concern that there would be no public interest.
Aisling Hubert said: “There is a huge injustice here. There was clear video evidence that two doctors were willing to offer an abortion on the grounds of the child being the ‘wrong’ gender. That is against the law and yet the CPS and the Judge were not prepared to allow evidence to come to Court that could have secured a conviction.
“Every week CCTV footage is used by police and the CPS to convict criminals in our Magistrate and Crown Courts and yet, in this case, the CPS and the judge have turned a blind eye.”
'Baby girls remain at risk'
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre added:
“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 judge’s decision, baby girls in the womb in Britain remain at risk.
“The judge has acted politically by refusing to order into evidence the footage that could have secured a conviction. He has taken sides with the establishment, which wants to brush this hugely contentious issue under the carpet. He has allowed the CPS to get away with failing to do its job and used his power to impose a heavy penalty on a young woman who is passionate about justice.
"Hurdle after hurdle has been erected in this case. Voters need to press their election candidates as to why no action has been taken to protect baby girls."