Chris Grayling's rape comments raise fury after abuse victim's suicide

Critics rounded on the Justice Secretary's suggestion for certain rape cases yesterday, calling it 'totally unacceptable'

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, was dragged yesterday into the row over a musician who killed herself after being subjected to tough cross-examination in a sex abuse case, by suggesting that some rapists could be given cautions if their victims were unwilling to give evidence in court.

The minister made the suggestion in the House of Commons just days before it emerged that a professional violinist and mother of four, Frances Andrade, who last month gave evidence against her music teacher Michael Brewer, had killed herself at her home in Surrey six days after testifying.

The Crown Prosecution Service defended itself yesterday over the handling the case. Although Brewer was found guilty on Friday of five counts of indecent assault against his former pupil, Mrs Andrade had told a friend the cross-examination was like being "raped all over again". Mr Grayling's comments, which he stood by yesterday, will fuel the debate sparked by Mrs Andrade's death over rape and abuse victims giving evidence in court.

Last Tuesday, Mr Grayling told the Commons that giving a caution for rapists where victims refused to give evidence was one way to ensure they received a criminal record.

In response to the Labour MP Karl Turner, who asked why the number of cautions was increasing, the minister said: "We would all view a caution for rape as completely unacceptable, but in some cases where the victim is absolutely unwilling to give evidence, it may be the only way to get something on the record about an offender. We must be careful about this issue and try to get it right."

Campaigning for the Eastleigh by-election yesterday, Mr Grayling told The Independent on Sunday he was "shocked" by the "horrible, disgusting case", but added: "What I said in the House was that I was concerned about the use of cautions for serious offences. One of the earliest bits of work I'm carrying out in the department is a full review of that, and I'm meeting police chiefs in the next few days to discuss the issue.

"I think that we have to be careful not to take away all discretion from police officers because in some cases there's good reason for the use of caution. I share the unhappiness of society as a whole about the exclusive use of cautions for serious offences – for knife crime, for example."

Women Against Rape called the idea of cautions for the offence "totally unacceptable". Mr Turner said the policy was "soft on criminals and very harsh on victims". According to the Ministry of Justice, 19 offenders, mostly under the age of 18, were cautioned for rape in 2011, 16 fewer than the previous year.

Mrs Andrade, 48, was a pupil at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester when she was sexually abused by Brewer. Brewer's ex-wife Kay, 68, was also found guilty of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade when she was 18.

The CPS said a dedicated witness care officer was assigned to explain the trial process to Mrs Andrade and that she had restated her willingness to give evidence on several occasions in full view of the court and defendant. Brewer's QC, Kate Blackwell, accused Mrs Andrade of being a "liar" and a "fantasist".

In a statement issued after the verdicts, Mrs Andrade's son, Oliver, said: "Being repeatedly called a 'liar' and a 'fantasist' about a horrific part of her life in front of a court challenged her personal integrity and was more than even she could bear."

The CPS said Mrs Andrade said she was willing to give evidence on several occasions both before and during the trial. She was also consulted before the Brewers were charged.

The jury of six men and five women were told Mrs Andrade had killed herself only after giving their verdicts.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits