Solicitor to fight attempted rape conviction: Man jailed in case that sparked 'date rape' debate is given leave to appeal. Will Bennett reports

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ANGUS DIGGLE, the solicitor who was jailed for attempting to rape a lawyer he had taken to a Scottish dance in London, was yesterday granted leave to appeal against his conviction.

However, his application for bail was rejected and he will remain in prison until his appeal is heard, probably within the next two months. He had already been given leave to appeal against his three- year sentence.

Last year, a jury at the Old Bailey convicted Diggle, 37, of Bolton in Lancashire, of attempting to rape the woman solicitor after he had taken her to a St Andrew's night dance at the Grosvenor House hotel in central London. The case prompted a fierce public debate about 'date rape'.

After Diggle's conviction, Judge David Williams QC adjourned sentence while psychiatric reports were prepared, but the following month jailed him for three years.

Yesterday, at a private hearing at the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Dyson ordered a speedy hearing of the case. The grounds of appeal will include claims that Diggle wrongfully admitted some statements attributed to him at the trial and that insufficient weight was given to some evidence.

Diggle was not present at the 30- minute hearing and will remain in Usk jail, Gwent. Duncan McNair, his solicitor, said yesterday: 'He is finding prison to be a very stressful and difficult experience.'

At his trial, the court was told that what had begun as a lighthearted evening of Highland dancing, during which the couple had drunk a great deal, ended with Diggle attacking the 25-year-old woman from Scotland. After the dance she told him he could go with her to a friend's flat in London until they both caught breakfast-time trains. The friend and her fiance were sleeping in the only bedroom so they had to use the sitting room.

The woman undressed with her back to him and got into a bed in the living room in her knickers while he lay down on the couch. Shortly afterwards she awoke to find Diggle, wearing only the lace cuffs of his Highland dress and a green condom, on top of her.

She fought him off and when the police were called Diggle told an officer: 'I have been out with her. I have spent pounds 200 on her. Why can't I do what I have done to her?' He claimed in court that he had mistakenly thought she was inviting him to have sexual intercourse.

After his conviction it was revealed that Diggle had previously been sacked from his job as a solicitor with the North-West Regional Health Authority after being fined pounds 50 for harassing a young woman on a train.

However, his jail sentence has been condemned by some as too harsh. Even the victim of the attempted rape said: 'I had no expectations it would be as long as that.'

No disciplinary proceedings have yet been started against Diggle by the Solicitors' Complaints Bureau. A decision on whether he should be struck off will not be made until after his appeal has been heard.

The Court of Appeal has ordered the retrial of a man who was jailed for three-and-a-half years for raping a barmaid, despite his claim that he had been seduced by her. Three judges, headed by Lord Taylor, the Chief Justice, ordered the new trial for David Forrest, 36, who was jailed by a judge at Winchester Crown Court last year, after hearing fresh evidence from two witnesses tending to cast doubt on the 24- year-old complainant's credibility.

The judges quashed Forrest's conviction, set aside his sentence, and directed that he be retried at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Forrest, a self-employed cabinet- maker, of Tichborne Down, Alresford in Hampshire, was freed on bail, with a condition that he must not contact the barmaid.

Comments