Mirren talks of her date-rapes, then provokes furore with views on sex attackers

Actress reveals attacks and cocaine use while in her twenties, but calls for softer approach to men who date-rape

Dame Helen Mirren has angered anti-rape campaigners by suggesting that women who are date-raped should not expect to take those who have violated them to court.

In an interview with the former tabloid editor Piers Morgan, the Oscar-winning actress revealed how she often used cocaine throughout her twenties and had herself been date-raped in her late teens and twenties when she moved to London.

The 63-year-old actress said that she had not reported the incidents to police, but caused controversy by suggesting that those who date-rape should not necessarily be considered rapists in a criminal sense. Referring to the boxer Mike Tyson, who was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in a hotel room in 1992, Dame Helen said: "It's such a tricky area isn't it? Especially if there is no violence. I mean, look at Mike Tyson. I don't think he was a rapist."

The star of The Queen said she believed that if a woman voluntarily ended up in a man's bedroom and engaged in sexual activity, she still had the right to say 'no' and that if a man ignored that request it should be considered rape.

But she added: "I don't think she can have that man into court under those circumstances. I guess it is one of the subtle parts of the men/women relationship that has to be negotiated and worked out between them."

Her comments, which will be published in October's GQ magazine, drew an angry response from women's groups and anti-rape campaigners who have long argued that all non-consensual sex should be classified as rape.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who runs the Karma Nirvana charity in Derby helping victims of rape and domestic violence, said yesterday: "Dame Helen's comments ... help reinforce the whole 'She's asking for it' mentality. For years we've been trying to move away from the perception that consent is dependent on what a woman wears or how she behaves ... if a person says 'no' it means 'no'."

She added: "I'm disappointed by the suggestion that date-rape victims shouldn't bother with the courts. We have such a low prosecution rate for rapes as it is. It's such a harrowing ordeal for rape victims to go through the judicial process that the last thing we need to do is discourage them."

Only 5 per cent of reported rapes in Britain end in a successful prosecution, one of the lowest conviction rates in the developed world. Campaigners argue that British attitudes often partially blaming a raped women for her behaviour is part of the reason why so few sexual attacks are reported and successfully prosecuted.

Dame Helen spoke of her own experience of being date-raped. "I was pretty naive," she said. "I went to a convent school until I was 18 and had never spent a night away from home, or gone to parties ... So I was very innocent when I went to college in London and I was living on my own. And I found guys were horrible, mean, rude, insulting and so without feeling."

Asked if she was date-raped she replied: "I was, yes. A couple of times. Not with excessive violence, or being hit, but rather being locked in a room and made to have sex against my will."

The acclaimed actress, who became a household name through the Prime Suspect crime series and recently won an Oscar for her portrayal of the Queen, also admitted using cocaine during the 1980s but said she decided to stop when the former Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie was found to be making money from the class-A drug.

Asked whether she had taken drugs, she said: "A bit of cocaine. I loved coke. I never did a lot, just a little bit at parties. But what ended it for me was when they caught Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons, in the early Eighties. He was hiding in South America and living off the proceeds of being a cocaine baron.

"I read that in the paper, and all the cards fell into place and I saw how my little sniff of cocaine at a party had an absolute direct route to this horrible man in South America."

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution