The collapse of three high profile rape cases under frightfully similar circumstances has led Scotland Yard to announce that it will be conducting a review into all current cases of rape and sexual abuse. It has also led to widespread realisation that the ‘victim centred’ culture – a result of decades of feminist activism – which is now deeply entrenched within the policing and judicial systems is not serving justice.
The trial of Liam Allan had to be stopped last week after his defence lawyer discovered messages that exonerated him at 4am the night before he was due to appear in court. She was handed a disc of material from the alleged victim’s phone which had not been disclosed to the defence and was told that it contained ‘nothing but girly banter’. If she had not taken the time to read through all the messages things would have gone very differently for her client. Isaac Itiary, who had been accused of child rape also had his case dismissed after it came to light that the girl in question had been routinely posing as a 19 year old – again these were phone messages that had not been properly examined by police. Third and finally, Samuel Armstrong, a Tory MP’s chief of staff accused of raping a woman in Westminster, was also cleared of all charges against him after new electronic evidence came to light that the woman had been trying to withhold evidence in order to get “more leeway to hide certain aspects and mould what comes out.”
Feminist campaigners have spent decades bombarding both the public and police with the narrative that women reporting rape and sexual assault are not believed or taken seriously enough, and that only a fraction of rape cases ever result in a conviction. Even the Guardian admits that the latter is an absolute myth – the actual conviction rate for rape is 58% – slightly higher than that of other crimes; the pitifully low statistics we often hear (such as 6%) are arrived at by looking at attrition rates as well as extrapolating using the estimated numbers of unreported rapes. Activists who are trying to secure funding as well as more dedication to the cause also have a perverse incentive to convince women that the entire process will be humiliating and difficult. In reality women reporting rape are assigned support officers and Sapphire Police Units exist to investigate ‘rapes and other serious sexual violence with an emphasis on not only bringing offenders to justice, but just as importantly, on the care and support of victims of these crimes.’ Of course the system is far from perfect and there will undoubtedly be examples where cases are badly mishandled, but this is not the norm, even though you’d be forgiven for thinking it is if you only listened to women’s advocacy groups. The result is that women are deterred from reporting sexual crimes.
Instead, what we have is a CPS desperate to secure high profile convictions even in inappropriate cases (such as that of Ched Evans where the woman in question never made a complaint and had no memory of the events), pressure put on police to always ‘believe the victim’ by senior figures such as chief prosecutor Alison Saunders and ever increasing barriers placed on what evidence can be used to establish a woman’s credibility. Very little of this is likely to help genuine victims come forward. It is, however, emboldening for individuals such as Samuel Armstrong’s accuser, who contacted a journalist hours after the alleged attack in a bid to generate ‘sympathetic’ press coverage.
Many, such as Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, are seeking to blame the withholding of evidence in these cases on lack of funding for prosecution services. This is certainly true to an extent – evidence in the form of electronic records is very labour intensive to review. But it is for this reason that the feminist line of argument whereby none of an alleged victim’s conduct outside the incident is relevant probably provided a convenient reason to cut costs.
The conversation is now turning to how this situation can be improved. It has been suggested for a long time that those accused of rape and sexual assault should have their right to anonymity protected until they are convicted – the disadvantage here is that publicity in such cases makes it more likely that other victims of the same individual will come forward. Perhaps this would be less of a problem if there weren’t such a strong segment of the feminist movement baying for the blood of those accused of sexual assault before they have been found guilty, and in many cases even after they have been acquitted. Liam Allen himself has also suggested that two police officers could be appointed to investigate rape cases so the evidence of both the complainant and the defendant could be investigated objectively and then reviewed by a senior officer.
Whatever solutions are found in the future, chances are that the three cases that have recently come to light are only the tip of the iceberg. It seems likely that reviews of current cases and past convictions will turn up similar miscarriages of justice, Julia Smart, the female defence barrister who discovered the evidence that saved Allen states; ‘These cases are not in isolation. I have ongoing cases which have a frighteningly similar pattern to Liam’s, and so do many of my colleagues in chambers. I have had previous cases where material has been disclosed at the 11th hour over something fundamental’.
In the process of Scotland Yard’s investigation and any other reviews that take place as a result of these revelations it is possible that the attention which will inevitably be drawn to cases of false accusations may deter victims who are truly fearful from coming forward. Lets hope the activists are happy with what they’ve achieved, because it doesn’t sound like anyone else is.