Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Barrister sparks outcry with 'deeply offensive' blog post on rape

rape conviction use this

Barrister David Osborne has incited a media frenzy, after posting a - now edited - blog in which he challenges the newly suggested guidelines regarding consent. 

Writing in his personal blog, in a since edited post titled She Was Gagging For It, Osborne railed against new guidelines which are set to be issued to the police regarding rape allegations in the UK, with the onus to now be placed upon suspects to prove that the woman consented to sex instead of proving that she said ‘no’. 

The Somerset based Osborne, who also has chambers in London, disagreed with Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service, who said that women should not be punished if they were incapacitated.

In a since deleted section of the blog, he wrote: "If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped’, this provides the accused with a complete defence. End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!"

He added: “I have always found it distasteful and unattractive the suggestion that as the victim was blind drunk she was therefore unable to give her consent to sex, or more to the point, she gave her consent which she would not have given had she been sober.” He made a further controversial statement to the Daily Mirror, saying: "I tell you what would drop the rape statistics would be if girls covered up, dressed appropriately and stopped drinking themselves legless."

Writer

David Osborne

Osborne has been a practisting barrister for over 35 years and specialises in public access work. In 1991 he delivered a final speech to the jury in verse, after which he was branded the 'Barrister Bard', which is the name of his blog. He has appeared as a news commentator on BBC and Sky News.

The director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, Sarah Green, told the Daily Mirror: “I find it hard to believe this is not some kind of sick joke or a parody”, while Clare Jones of WomenCentre said: “It’s appalling. We are deeply shocked that even today, in 2015, someone can seriously suggest that the violent crime of rape could be provided with a complete defence if a woman was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. Is Mr Osborne suggesting that women need to be teetotal in public places in order to protect themselves?”

Osborne later added an addendum to his post, in which he clarified his opinion, saying he did not think a drunk could not be raped, but stood by his original piece. “I have received many emails supporting my views, so the issues raised above need to be addressed,” he wrote. “By way of clarification, I withdraw unreservedly the suggestion reported in the Mirror that a woman incapacitated by drink or drugs or both cannot be raped.”

Rape Crisis reports that roughly 85,000 women a year are raped in England and Wales, but the latest figures show that just 5,670 attacks were reported to the police and of the 2,910 cases which went to court, only 1,070 led to a conviction.

Last month Saunders spoke at the National Crown Prosecution Service Police Conference on Rape Investigations and Prosecutions in London and set out the new guidelines regarding consent, commenting: "Consent to sexual activity is not a grey area - in law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely. It is not a crime to drink, but it is a crime for a rapist to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex though drink."

The guidelines also say that the ability to consent to sex should also be questioned where the complainant has mental health problems, learning difficulties or was asleep or unconscious at the time of the alleged attack.

"These tools take us well beyond the old saying 'no means no' – it is now well established that many rape victims freeze rather than fight as a protective and coping mechanism," said Saunders.

Related

152569841.jpg

Men must prove a woman said 'yes' to sex under new rape guidance

The Hunting Ground.PNG

New documentary suggests rape is an epidemic in US universities

untitled-1.jpg

The kick-ass women who scored a goal for the sisterhood in 2014

More

The best possible gifts for when flowers aren’t going to cut it

17 unusual and thoughtful gifts for when the s**t hits the fan

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This Battle of the Sexes legend wants you to STOP asking about McEnroe

“I would like to see John McEnroe win a Grand Slam tournament while pregnant”

by Susan Devaney
22 Sep 2017

“The real reason we should all be upset about Uber”

Grow up: your bank balance really isn’t what’s at stake here

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

There's a huge sherbet fountain coming to London - and it's free

Bompas & Parr are planning a weird, wonderful and nostalgia-filled event

by Helen Brown
22 Sep 2017

Rick and Morty creator responds to sexist trolling of female writers

The show hired four women. Cue cries of “Worst. Episodes. Evah.”

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

Everything you need to know about Uber being banned in London

The taxi firm has had its license revoked by TfL

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

The new Baileys flavour you’ll want to drink well beyond Halloween

Perfect autumn cocktails ahead

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This unexpected town has been voted the best place to work in the UK

We didn’t see this one coming

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

Harry Potter fans, this epic Hogwarts goblet is actually magical

It's perfect for Butterbeer (or prosecco)

by Megan Murray
22 Sep 2017

The hidden meanings behind the nation’s most popular baby names

Prepare for lots of girls’ names ending in ‘a’

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017