Alleged rape victims will no longer face cross-examination in court, with testimony to be filmed instead

Our thanks to Y for this in The Independent. I’ve added the word ‘Alleged’ to the paper’s headline, above, in the interests of accuracy. From the piece:

Rape victims [ALLEGED rape victims] will be spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court under reforms being brought forward by the Government.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said that, from September, their cross-examination will be pre-recorded and then played to the jury during the trial.

A paragraph unwittingly revealing that women are held to the same standards as children by the criminal justice system:

The Ministry of Justice said the move followed a successful pilot pre-recording the evidence of child victims of sex offences which showed they felt less pressure and were better able to recall events.

Ian, our legal advisor, comments (the emphases are his):

It is a fundamental part of British ‘justice’ that witnesses can be cross-examined.

It is not fair just or reasonable for witnesses to give evidence and then not be allowed to be challenged on the evidence.

This is a further erosion of the limited rights to a fair trial.

Article 6 of the ECHR reads as follows.

  1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
  2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
  3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

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About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • How do the rights of presumed guilty and no longer alleged rapists compare to those of alleged murderers?

    • Groan

      That is the point : The defendant in a rape trial faces the full resouces of the “Crown” with fewer “rights” in terms of defence than a murderer. This would further reduce the defendants right to a defence. Currently the complainant’s right to anonymity and the rules of evidence effectively prevents the defence finding witnesses to similar or previous relevant behaviour (as eventually proved cruial in correcting the miscarriage of justice in imprisoning Ched Evans).
      What is proposed is a further denial of rights to defence in Rape cases.
      It is also presuming women are “minors”.

      • Carey Allison

        Until men are excluded from the jury pools of the trials of alleged rapists, men have within their own hands the tools, would they but use them, to put a stop to this. If the woman doesn’t testify in court and face cross examination by the barrister of the defendant, disregard her testimony completely.

      • Rob

        sorry that won’t happen as many men will play the white knight

  • Slowcoach

    This is, of course, another step on the road to abolishing a practical defence.

    Boiling a frog, thin end of the wedge, slippery slope are all analogies that require no further explaination here.
    The aim being guilt by accusation — job done.

    Because people don’t care about things until they affect them personally, the fact is things will have to get worse before they get better since it is that which will eventually ignite the equal and opposite reaction that accompanies every action.

    One may not have read it here first, but neither will it be last.

  • Rob

    1. when will the cross examination be pre recorded? If there is a reasonable gap between the cross examination and the actual trial then new evidence may come to light.
    2. the point of cross examination( among other things) is to examine the persons behavior and response to the question. Are they lying, do they have doubts.Are they insincere. Being in the spotlight of a court can and will seem very intimidating but it also acts as a reminder not to commit perjury.
    3. if they lie on camera will it be considered perjury ?( I’m thinking of Pauley Perrette)
    4 children and some vulnerable adults are considered in their sensitivity to proceedings hence the idea of recording( although for some reason we are quite happy to subject very young men( minors) to allow them to testify in very difficult cases.

    I would hate the idea of being cross examined, but I acknowledge that it needs to be done for the sake of justice. Any ruling in a court has poor credibility if the accuser cannot be challenged and a video recording(with the exception of children) is a poor substitute which assumes that adult women are children.

    If I am going to accuse someone of a crime, then I have to respect their right to defend themselves( no matter how much I loathe them) and that include cross examination. Otherwise my accusation has no validity. the outcome of these trials( we are focusing on alleged rape here) has very serious outcomes( look at examples of people imprisoned or executed for a murder they didn’t commit). Anything which can introduce doubt( and a second rate cross examination on video will do that) will only undermine the legal system. We need anonymity on all parties as well until sentence is passed