Barrister sparks outcry by claiming men should be cleared of rape if the victim was drunk

Barrister derided new rules issued by the DPP in a blog titled 'She was gagging for it', on his website

Lewis Smith
Saturday 07 February 2015 00:38
The chances of getting a rape case prosecuted are now at the lowest rate since 2007
The chances of getting a rape case prosecuted are now at the lowest rate since 2007

A barrister has provoked fury by reportedly saying men accused of the rape should be acquitted if the woman was drunk or on drugs.

The comments, appearing in the blog 'David Osborne: The Barrister Bard', derided the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders, who said women should no longer be blamed if they are too drunk to consent to sex. It is not known if the remarks were posted by him.

In new rules issued by the DPP an accused man will now have to convince police and prosecutors that the woman consented to sex and had the “full capacity and freedom to do so”.

The writer derided the idea in a blog, titled ‘She was gagging for it’, which advocated a system in which accused men would have a “complete defence” to allegations of rape if the woman was “under the influence”.

The blog went on: “I have always found it distasteful and unattractive the suggestion that as the victim was blind drunk she therefore unable to give her consent to sex, or more to the point, she gave her consent which she would not have given had she been sober.

“In my book, consent is consent, blind drunk or otherwise, and regret after the event cannot make it rape as Ms. Saunders and Ms. [Harriet] Harman seem to be advocating. Save us from the Mssss!

“I have a very simple solution which I hope you will agree is fair. If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped’, this provides the accused with a complete defence. End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!”

In comments likely to further incur the wrath of campaigners, a number of caustic remarks about women followed.

Alison Saunders

Referring to the DPP being a woman, the writer said: “Is it just me, or are women taking over the world?” and went on to suggest that allowing women to serve on juries has weakened the system of justice: “In days of old, the jury were all male, and until recently, over the age of 21 and property owners… Successive governments watered down these prerequisites, presumably in the interests of political correctness.”

The comments were described as appalling by women’s rights workers, among them Sarah Green, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, who told the Daily Mirror: “I find it hard to believe this is not some kind of sick joke or a parody.

“It is ridiculous. He is suggesting the opposite of the law. The justice system exists to punish and deter perpetrators. The guy is a barrister and there’s no way he doesn’t know all this.”

Clare Jones of Women Centre said: “It’s appalling. We are deeply shocked that even today, in 2015, someone can seriously suggest that the violent crime of rape could be provided with a complete defence if a woman was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.

“Is Mr Osborne suggesting that women need to be teetotal in public places in order to protect themselves?”

The barrister, who lives in Somerset, apparently defended his standpoint in an interview with the Daily Mirror which quoted him as saying: “The protection in law that they have got seems to me to be twofold.

“Number One: Don’t go out in the first place. Or Number Two: If you do go out don’t get rat-arsed. If you get rat arsed, I’m sorry, you are asking for trouble.

“You’ve seen the news sequences of girls who, regardless of the weather, have their backsides sticking out of their dresses and their tits hanging out of the same dress.

"Wandering around the streets, staggering around and then wondering at the end of all that why somebody has, if you like, taken advantage of them.

“And so in those circumstances I don’t see for the life of me why the law should now be slanted - as I perceive it with Alison Saunders - towards the victim and therefore against the accused.

"The whole thing is over slanted in favour of drunken victims and against lads who chance their arm. I don’t call them victims. I said that these are complainants.

“They are not victims because victims in my opinion are synonymous with people who have been taken advantage of.

“I tell you what would drop the rape statistics would be if girls covered up, dressed appropriately and stopped drinking themselves legless.”

Defending his comments to MailOnline, Mr Osborne said "the red-blooded bloke" should not have to worry about consent if he makes "the usual inquiries".

"After sexual intercourse has taken place whilst a girl was clearly drunk, when she sobers up and then says 'I wouldn't have consented had I been sober; I'm saying very firmly: 'bad luck'," the barrister added.

"Why should the responsibility for making these decisions be placed upon the bloke?

"The red-blooded bloke out on the town, there to enjoy himself, if he thinks that someone is likely to consent and he makes the usual enquiries as you do, obviously he should whether she is underage but beyond that I don't really see why the responsibility for determining whether sexual intercourse takes place with consent and with consent freely given, is entirely the responsibility of the accused person."

Mr Osborne has not responded to The Independent's request for a comment.