Here we go again.  Another drink, consent and rape case which featured prominently in the press, and surprisingly, merited half a page in The Times. I suspect this may have something to do with the fact that the accused, now gloriously acquitted, goes to Durham University, was the secretary of the Debating Society, hails from Jersey, as if that has anything to do with it, dresses smartly and has ‘Oscar Wilde’ foppish good looks. All in all, a thoroughly decent young man.

That aside, what depresses me time and again is the ongoing issue of drink and consent which has not been addressed at all since my blog She was gagging for it nearly twelve months ago.  As far as I can tell, Alison Saunders is still the Director of Public Prosecutions, and as far as I can tell, she is still telling her prosecutors to prosecute any drink and consent cases regardless of the evidence if the alleged victim cries rape after the event. In this particular case, the CPS have trotted out the well worn mantra: “Taking all the evidence into consideration, it was decided there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction that it was in the public interest to prosecute this case.”  The jury took less than 3 hours to find the lad not guilty, so how does that square with their statement that there was a realistic prospect of conviction?  It beggars belief.

Consent is not vitiated afterwards simply because the girl didn’t enjoy the experience and wished she hadn’t said yes, but time and again, we hear reports that drunken girls are willingly going with boys right up to the wire, and often beyond, and then crying rape.  The Crown Prosecution Service is primed to believe the alleged victim instead of using their own judgment in highly questionable cases where they should be telling her to grow up and get a life, in the nicest possible way of course.  Prosecuting an innocent person to conviction is life changing, and he becomes the victim.  He will go to prison, he will be placed onto the sex offenders’ register to be monitored indefinitely, and he risks being disqualified from certain types of employment.  The appeal process is slow and cumbersome and designed to uphold the conviction unless it would be compellingly unjust to do so, and those cases are as rare as hen’s teeth.

The debate over anonymity for those accused of rape has opened up, yet again, with the usual suspects, some better informed than others, offering their opinion.  As it happens, I was invited the other day to debate the question of anonymity at Durham University no less, an invitation I have regrettably declined, but it needs debating.  As we say, the jury are out on anonymity for the accused.  The complainant has anonymity, so why not the accused, or so the argument goes.  It barely scratches the surface of the real debate, which is when is it right and proper to prosecute at all, and the CPS mantra needs to be revisited.

In my blog back in February of last year, I caused a furore amongst the strident Feministas when I suggested that where consent was in issue and the complainant was drunk, the accused should not be prosecuted.  Let me qualify this to avoid yet another Feminista verbal firestorm.  The CPS need to take a careful look at their prosecuting guidelines when deciding if it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Far better that the complainant walks away with her reputation and her anonymity intact than one innocent defendant is wrongly convicted.

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

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