Justice: Rape witness Bill is 'unjust'

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The Independent Online
THE LORD Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, fiercely criticised Government proposals to ban rape defendants from cross-examining their accusers yesterday.

In a late-night sitting, Lord Bingham said the provision in the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill would lead to "unjust convictions and unjust acquittals". "For the sake of fair trials, I urge the Government to think again," he said.

He pointed out that there were very strict guidelines by the Court of Appeal to protect witnesses. He added that miscarriages of justice had to be avoided "at all costs".

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has frequently promised better protection for rape victims in court.

Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Home Office minister, said he would "defend, defend and defend" the legislation because the Government wanted to end the "bullying, humiliation and threats" faces by rape victims.