Sir Keir Starmer admitted he made “mistakes” when he led the Crown Prosecution Service but insisted he had “no skeletons in the closet” as he faces questions over his role in the Post Office scandal.
The Labour leader was Director of Public Prosecutions between 2008 and 2013 and the CPS has admitted that it was involved in 11 prosecutions that were brought over issues linked to the Horizon IT system. Three of them resulted in convictions.
The faulty computer system is blamed for the wrongful convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history.
The CPS has declined to say if the cases took place while Sir Keir was in charge of the organisation and he has insisted he was unaware of the cases which he said had not crossed his desk during his tenure.
Speaking on Keir Starmer: Up Close – Tonight, which airs on ITV1 on Thursday, Sir Keir said there is no “smoking gun” over his role in the cases and suggested questions over his knowledge of the prosecutions were part of the nature of attacks from political opponents.
“Look there, it’s going be personal. That’s never pleasant,” he said.
“But if they want to attack me for decisions when I was Director of Public Prosecutions . . . we had 7,000 staff, we made nearly a million decisions a year.
“Will there be mistakes there? Of course there will. But there’ll be no smoking gun, no skeletons in the closet.”
Sir Keir, who opinion polls suggest is likely to be the next prime minister, has faced calls to explain his role in the prosecutions and to apologise to victims and their families.
Labour has said Sir Keir had no knowledge of the cases and is “calling for swift exoneration and compensation for the victims”.
It comes as current and former employees of Fujitsu – the multi-billion pound firm that produced and maintained the defective Horizon software – are giving evidence to the inquiry into the scandal.
On Wednesday, the inquiry heard that Fujitsu staff said they feared being “hauled over the coals” after realising the Post Office had used “manipulated” audit data to criminally investigate sub-postmasters.