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6th Jul, 2022

Attorney General suggests rape law could be changed

MP JEREMY Wright has suggested the law allowing alleged rape victims’ sexual history to be used as evidence in court could be changed.

Female Labour MPs have written to the Kenilworth and Southam MP in his role as Attorney General expressing their fears women could be less likely to report rape.

It follows the high-profile retrial of the Ched Evans where evidence was given from two men who had sex with the footballer’s accuser around the time of the rape allegation.

After a five-year legal battle former Welsh international Evans was found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in October.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) a person’s previous sexual behaviour can be used ‘when the behaviour is close to the time of the alleged offence and the behaviour is so similar as to not be explained by coincidence.’

In Parliament Mr Wright suggested the law about using a person’s sexual history in criminal trials could be reformed.

He said: “We need to understand more about the decision in this particular case, we need to understand whether a change in the law is appropriate and, if not, whether it is sensible to look at the guidance that is given to judges about when this evidence is admissible and the guidance that judges give to juries about how that evidence should be used.

“I think we need to do all of those things before we are in a position to understand what, if any, changes are needed.

“We must be confident that the message sent to those who may be currently worried about reporting these sorts of offences is not that they are not encouraged to do so, quite the reverse: they are, and we need to make sure that those messages are clear.”

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