An alleged rape victim had her case dropped because she “enjoyed an adventurous sex life,” according a dossier of 20 sex assaults ditched by prosecutors despite overwhelming evidence.
They include a rape victim whose case was backed by Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, a QC and former Solicitor General, one whose alleged rape was filmed and video found on the suspect’s phone and another held at knifepoint with photographs of her injuries.
They have been compiled by a coalition of women’s groups who allege the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has contributed to a slump in rape convictions by abandoning hundreds of “weak” cases which are “less likely to find favour with a jury.”
Their dossier also includes evidence from a CPS whistleblower alleging the new “risk-averse” policy was introduced three years ago and a statistical analysis of rape data by an Oxford University professor supporting the contention that there has been a change in policy.
The evidence was part of an unsuccessful high court action by the women’s groups against the CPS but is now being published in full in a letter to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, urging him to consider it as part of the Government’s inquiry into falling rape convictions.
Over the past five years, rape offences reported to police have risen by about 65% to 55,195. However, the proportion making it to court (prosecutions) in that time has more than halved.
The last available 12-month figures showed a fall to 2,343 prosecutions in the year to September 2019, compared with 3,034 in the 12 months to March 2019.
In one case, Imogen, who accused her ex-partner of a violent rape, was told by the CPS that the “jury would be aware that you had enjoyed an adventurous sex life with the suspect before this incident.”
Her alleged attacker claimed she consented, while CPS said her delay of a week in making a complaint and her medical evidence then not being “wholly supportive” of a sexual assault led them to reject it. She sought an official review of the decision but pulled out over the distress and trauma.
In the appeal backed by Ms Frazer, Olivia, a gay woman, was allegedly raped by a stranger in the early hours, which the CPS refused to prosecute because of CCTV suggesting she had followed the man out onto the street.
Olivia disputed the suggestion, saying that the CCTV only provided a partial account of events while she had medical conditions that meant she could not run away. Her appeal against the decision not to prosecute was rejected by the CPS.
Gina was allegedly raped when very drunk by a man which was filmed by another man. Despite the suspect being caught lying to the police under caution and the video found on the other’s phone, the CPS ruled her evidence was irrevocably undermined by her poor recollection of events.
“We need the government’s Rape Review to deliver ambitious recommendations that will meaningfully address what currently amounts to the effective decriminalisation of rape,” said Sarah Green, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
“The only way it can do that is by taking account of the compelling evidence that we have presented today.”
Sue Hemming, CPS Legal Director said: “We share the concerns about the gap between reported rapes and those cases which come to court. However, the judgment of the High Court was clear, there has been no change of approach in how CPS prosecutes rape. They found that there was no arguable basis for EVAW’s claims.
“The independent inspectorate report on rape found the same, concluding our legal test was correctly applied in 98 per cent of cases they examined.
“We are focused on understanding the charging gap and will shortly announce further plans to help secure justice for everybody affected by sexual violence.”