Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

'Terrifying misuse of the law' 109 women prosecuted for false rape allegations in five years, say charity

ByeF88zIQAIZvgM.jpg

A charity is taking its campaign to the House of Commons today to end what they call a "terrifying misuse of the law" that has seen 109 women prosecuted for false rape allegations in the past five years.

Women Against Rape (WAR) believe these cases are pursued more aggressively in the UK than other countries, while rape and sexual offences are still under-reported.

98 of the 109 were prosecutions for perverting the course of justice, which can be punished by a maximum sentence of life in prison rather than the maximum six months or a fine for wasting police time, while "over 90% of rapists are getting away with it," according to WAR's Lisa Longstaff - who also says some who report rape are pressured into retracting their allegations before being investigated.

“It’s appalling that when over 90% of rapists are getting away with it and two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners, women who report violence are being imprisoned," Lisa told the Guardian.

“From Rotherham to Westminster, police dismiss victims and press them to retract their allegations. We have repeatedly raised with the former and present DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] that biased and negligent rape investigations result in miscarriages of justice.”

Speaking out for the charity will be women who have been jailed for false accusations of rape, and other supporters, such as US law professor Lisa Avalos, who went as far as to say the UK's handling of such cases "violates human rights." In the US, false accusations are a misdemeanour offence for which women are usually not jailed.

“In the course of my research I have not found any country that pursues these cases against women rape complainants in the way the UK does. The UK has an unusual approach and I think their approach violates human rights."

Pregnant Layla Ibrahim was jailed for three years for perverting the course of justice after reporting a sexual assault. Her lawyer Nigel Richardson will also be speaking at the event, and is preparing to submit her case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which pursues miscarriages of justice.

He told the Guardian: “These cases seem to be pursued with a particular vehemence by the police and CPS [Crown Prosecution Service]. It’s as though lying to the police, as they would see it, demands a really heavy reaction. There comes a moment when the woman goes from being a victim in the eyes of the police to a suspect. She may not even know that has happened.”

Figures released last month revealed more than a quarter of rape and sexual offences in the UK were not being recorded as crimes. There were 3,692 prosecutions for rape in England and Wales in 2012/13, resulting in 2,333 convictions. The DPP has been investigating the case of Eleanor de Freitas, a rape complainant who killed herself while facing a trial for perverting the course of justice.

The CPS says prosecutions are not "taken lightly." A spokesperson said: “Cases of perverting the course of justice that involve allegedly false rape allegations are serious but rare. They are usually highly complex and sensitive often involving vulnerable parties, so any decision to charge is extremely carefully considered and not taken lightly.

“Such cases can only be brought where the prosecution can prove that the original rape allegation was false and the relatively few cases that are brought should not dissuade any potential victim from coming forward to report an assault.”

Images: Women Against Rape

Comments

More

At last - Britain's first gravy bar is coming

Finally, a proper way to enjoy chips

by Anna Pollitt
27 Mar 2017

“When are you going to get hitched?” How to tackle intrusive questions

Useful responses for the most annoying of questions

27 Mar 2017

Oh, happy day: a live Sister Act show is coming to London

Featuring a 35-piece gospel choir and full band

by Moya Crockett
27 Mar 2017

Westworld creators answer one of the big questions about Maeve

And star Thandie Newton addresses the show’s violence toward women

by Amy Swales
27 Mar 2017

Women link hands on Westminster Bridge to honour victims

Many wore blue as a symbol of hope and peace

by Anna Pollitt
27 Mar 2017

New report: endometriosis symptoms often “dismissed” by doctors

42% of women said they were “not treated with dignity and respect” by doctors

by Amy Swales
27 Mar 2017

Airline defends decision to ban girls from flight for wearing leggings

The incident was “sexist and sexualised young girls”, according to an observer.

by Moya Crockett
27 Mar 2017

Deliveroo is giving away free ice cream to make your Monday better

That's your lunch break sorted.

by Hayley Spencer
27 Mar 2017

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017