Sex liars register is urged by judge

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The Independent Online
A CROWN Court judge is urging the Home Office to set up a special register of women who make false sex allegations against men.

Judge David Bryant called for the register yesterday after the collapse of a trial of a 35-year-old man accused of rape and indecent assault by his 16-year-old daughter.

The judge, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, dismissed the case after the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against the man when it emerged that the girl had a history of making false sex allegations against members of her family and teachers. The previous allegations had been investigated by Cleveland Constabulary. Its officers had not informed the neighbouring Durham force, which was involved in the latest case.

The judge said nobody should have had to endure what the man had suffered. "It seems to me the case shows a need for some sort of register which may be the obverse of a sex offenders register." He added: "I can only say that I am sorry that he has had to go through what must have been an extremely unpleasant experience."

After the short hearing, Judge Bryant said he knew of other cases that had been dropped when the truth emerged that women had made false allegations. He told The Independent the allegations could be held on a register centrally compiled by the Home Office or the police.

"This is not a terribly difficult thing to do. Nothing would happen in most of the cases but once in a while, when a similar complaint had been demonstrated to be false, one could take a closer look at the circumstances," he said.

He said it was fortunate that in the case in which he had been involved, the record of false allegations had been known. He said that in some cases it was quite possible that such evidence never saw the light of day because different police forces had investigated the complaints and notcommunicated. This, he said, was worrying.

However, the judge's suggestion caused deep concern among lawyers and women's groups. Victim Support said it was astonished by the judge's idea. The network's spokeswoman, Jenny Watson, said many women were raped by people they knew. Some came under "immense pressure to withdraw their allegations" and often did so although they had been raped. Such a check on a register in these circumstances would only lead to further injustice, she said. Victim Support said that it was up to the police to test the veracity of each allegation.

The Association of Women Barristers said it could not support any such register. Helene Pines Richman, who chairs the association, objected to a register that highlighted women complainants as special cases. She also said the proposal raised issues of confidentiality and privacy. While she sympathised with the plight of the man in yesterday's case, she said that in hindsight the judge may well regret what he was suggesting.

The prosecution offered no evidence on the two charges, which dated back to November 1997 and Judge Bryant recorded not-guilty verdicts. The man said after the case: "I don't want to say anything. My family have been through enough already."