A woman who was told the man who filmed her naked without her consent could not face charges has won a five-year fight for justice as the Crown Prosecution Service said it would look at the case again.
Emily Hunt, who alleges she was raped in May 2015, woke up without any clothes in a hotel bed in London next to a man she says she had never seen before.
The 40-year-old, who says her last memory was of having lunch with a family member in a local restaurant five hours earlier, felt as if she had been drugged and also suspected she had been raped.
The man was arrested on suspicion of rape in 2015 but denied the allegations and was not charged because of a lack of evidence.
But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now said their decision not to prosecute the man who filmed Ms Hunt naked without gaining her consent should be reassessed.
Ms Hunt said the police carried out a “really poor investigation” into her claims and she was only told about the naked video of her just over a year after the alleged incident took place.
Her alleged attacker took a video lasting over one minute of her naked and unconscious on the hotel bed for the purpose of “masturbating to it later”.
“The CPS has treated me inhumanely me from beginning to end,” Ms Hunt told The Independent. “I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had a breakdown. This has completely derailed the last five years of my life. If only the CPS had dealt with this properly from the beginning. Hopefully, they charge him. He could go to prison for voyeurism which is a maximum of two years and then he could be on the sex offenders register as that is where he belongs.”
Ms Hunt, who has gained cross-party political support, added: “Today we are all safer. Today we know that what happened to me is, irrefutably, illegal. I have hope that my attacker may finally – now nearly five years later – see justice and consequences for his actions.
“It has taken nearly five years to fight to get to this point. It should not take connections, education nor wealth to get justice. This decision was the clear, obvious and common sense answer to a question that no one else was asking: is it illegal to video someone naked without their consent? Because the answer is obvious: Yes, yes it is. And today the court agreed.”
Even though the perpetrator admitted the video had been captured without consent and for the purpose of his own sexual gratification, the CPS refused to prosecute for voyeurism under the Sexual Offences Act.
Observing or recording an individual doing a private act for sexual gratification without gaining their consent is illegal and is known as voyeurism, which carries a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment.
Ms Hunt, who is represented by the Centre for Women’s Justice and launched a crowd justice campaign to raise money for the legal proceedings, launched a judicial review in June last year and her case had been due to be heard in court next Thursday.
But last week, she learnt the CPS, who has said there are no grounds to prosecute in Ms Hunt's case, would be arguing the opposite point of view in the Court of Appeal in a case centred around the same issue.
The court allowed Ms Hunt to intervene in a case involving a man who secretly videoed himself having sex with two women who had consented to sex in return for money but had not agreed to being captured on camera.
“It defies logic for we as taxpayers are funding them to take up two exact opposite sides of the same law,” Ms Hunt said. “Today they read out the judgement which said it is illegal to video someone naked without their consent even if you are in the same room and even if you are engaged in a consensual act.”
Harriet Wistrich, an award-winning human rights lawyer who is director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, argued the CPS had handled Ms Hunt’s case "appallingly” and said it was hypocritical for them to argue two opposite points.
She added: “We would like to know why the CPS chose to argue opposite points in two separate cases. As a publicly funded body, they have a duty to act consistently and in the public interest. In the context of significant reductions in the number of sexual offences prosecuted by the CPS, it is disappointing that they put limited resources into fighting cases for the sake of an argument where complainants have suffered significant trauma and deserve their cases to be put before a jury”.
The Metropolitan Police were called immediately after Ms Hunt suspected she had been raped – with the suspect admitting sex had taken place but claiming it had been with her consent.
A CPS spokesperson said: “What constitutes a ‘private act’ for the purposes of the offence of voyeurism had never been conclusively defined by a higher court until today.
“The CPS does not make or decide the law; that is the remit of Parliament and the Courts respectively.
“Now that this new authoritative judgment has clarified this point of law, the CPS will review its position in the judicial review brought by Emily Hunt.”