Michael Le Vell cleared of rape: CPS defends decision to bring case against Coronation Street star

 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) tonight defended its decision to bring the case against Michael Le Vell.

The star was originally arrested in 2011 but proceedings against him were dropped and he was re-arrested earlier this year following a review of evidence.

A spokesman for the CPS said: “On the basis of the reviews the CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. As these were very serious allegations of child sexual abuse it therefore followed that it was in the public interest to place that evidence before a jury at court.”

Peter Saunders of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood said it was important that the law protected everyone involved in allegations of child abuse. But he said: “A case like this should not put other people off coming forward where they have suffered rape or serious abuse.”

Alleged victims of sexual abuse receive lifetime anonymity even if charges are never proved.

By contrast those cleared of sex crimes receive no protection sometimes after being subject to intense media coverage.

This has led to calls including from Maura McGowan QC, chair of the Bar Council, that so damaging is the stigma attached to these type of offences that those who stand trial for rape or other serious sexual offences should remain anonymous until they are found guilty.

However, opponents of a change to the law say that this could prevent victims speaking out. Publicity surrounding the cases of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall resulted in a number of people coming forward and in the case of Hall, his conviction.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer recently issued new guidelines governing child abuse prosecutions.

These included focusing on the overall credibility of the allegation rather than relying solely on the victim’s account. He also recommended greater testing of the suspect’s version of events and their circumstances as well as ensuring prosecutors sought access to third party material to build the case.

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