Actress sued in first rape slander case

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The Independent Online
A MAN is suing a former girlfriend for slander after she accused him of raping her during their 16-month affair.

The 34-year-old civil servant is claiming damages from the woman, aged 30, saying that she permanently harmed his career prospects after she told colleagues that he had twice raped her.

Legal experts say it is the first time that a man has attempted to use the courts to clear his name after such a claim. The parties cannot be named for legal reasons.

The claimant's solicitor-advocate, David Price, told Mrs Justice Smith at the High Court in London yesterday that the woman, a part-time actress who dreamt of becoming the next Brigitte Bardot, veered between being like "Alice in Wonderland" and a "siren".

The Crown Prosecution Service had told his client that no charges would be brought over the woman's accusations.

The man had been "in prison" by having the false allegation hanging over him since June 1996, Mr Price told the jury. "He would ask you, by your verdict, to release him from that prison and let him get on with his life."

If the woman was to be believed, the man was a "sadistic abuser" who degraded and bullied her and demanded unlimited sex when she was tired and in pain.

The woman, who had told her one-time lover that she was convinced she would be the next Brigitte Bardot by the time she was 30, was a "fantasist, a performer, craving attention and sympathy", Mr Price said. At one point during his evidence the man described the woman as being "highly sexual" and told the jury that they had sex six times a week.

He added: "She is self-obsessed, selfish, obsessively jealous. One minute, she's Alice in Wonderland, the next a total flirt and a siren.

"You may find it more than coincidental that she was `raped' at a time when she was taking the part of an abused woman in a play."

The defendant, who denies slander, says that she told workmates she had been raped only so that she could get advice.

Mr Price said there was conflict between the couple's views of the aftermath of the relationship which, it was agreed, was ended by the man.

The woman claimed she was relieved when it was over but that the man pestered her to go back to him. The man alleged that they stayed friends, but that she cooled towards him when he found a new girlfriend.

At the same time that he was interviewed by police over the rape allegation, the man learnt that the woman had made the same complaint to their employers and had started formal disciplinary proceedings against him.

In the end, the man decided the situation was intolerable and reluctantly accepted a transfer to another office, making plain this was not an admission of guilt, the court was told.

The hearing was adjourned until today.

Nigel Tait, a partner at the defamation specialists Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, said the case may make women think twice before they make false allegations of rape, but it might also stop women coming forward with genuine complaints. "It's a novel case and I think it's right that she is protected [by not identifying her], otherwise women are not going to be willing to come forward."