Alison Saunders should be sacked – for the Janner case, and for her absurd views on rape

What the DPP has instructed goes against every principle of natural justice

Julia Hartley Brewer
Monday 29 June 2015 18:10
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Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, had previously declared that Lord Janner was unfit to stand trial (PA)
Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, had previously declared that Lord Janner was unfit to stand trial (PA)

I am a victim of rape. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before. But that’s probably because I never thought of myself as a victim. Until now. The crime happened years ago in my early twenties when, after a drunken night out, I ended up in bed with a man and we had sex.

We had been kissing but I didn’t particularly want to have sex with him and I think I told him that – although we were both pretty drunk so I’m not completely sure if I did or even if he heard me. Either way, we ended up having sex and I woke the next morning with a sore head and plenty of regrets. Back then, I (like many other women) put the whole evening down to experience. Stuff happens, move on.

Today though, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, I am a rape victim and that drunken horny bloke is an alleged rapist. Even though neither of us thinks a crime has taken place, Ms Saunders is adamant that she wants justice to be done in the wake of every drunken sexual encounter that turns sour the morning after the night before.

She has instructed the Crown Prosecution Service that unless a man can prove a woman has consented, and unless he can be sure that she was not too drunk to give that consent, then he is effectively guilty of rape until proven innocent in a court of law.

Yet this is the very same Ms Saunders who yesterday defended her decision not to prosecute former MP Greville Janner, 86, on 22 serious child abuse charges involving nine victims because, it is claimed, the Labour peer is incapacitated by advanced dementia, despite no court assessment of his health ever having taken place.

Ms Saunders spoke out as she faced growing demands for her to resign from her £205,000 a year job after her decision in the Janner case was overturned by the Crown Prosecution Service to enable a “trial of the facts” to take place.

There is no doubt that Ms Saunders made a serious error of judgement in the Janner case. But that is far from the only blunder she has made – and arguably it is her error of judgement in rape cases that could have far wider reaching and dangerous consequences.

We are now in the bizarre situation in the UK where men accused of the most heinous sex crimes against children can escape justice for decades, yet men who had drunken sex with a consenting adult woman last Saturday night could find themselves facing years behind bars.

In a desperate bid to raise the low conviction rate for rape in our courts, she initiated a change in the CPS rules for prosecuting rape cases earlier this year which, to all intents and purposes, make a drunk man responsible for everything he does (and anything a drunk woman does with him) while a drunk woman is treated as a child with no culpability at all, simply by virtue of her consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

I am not claiming that a rape isn’t a rape unless it involves an assailant armed with a knife in a dark alley. Far from it. I also don’t think that, by wearing short skirt, a low-cut top or even by flirting or kissing a man, a woman is in any way “asking for it”. But I am at a loss as to why a woman should lose all responsibility for her own actions simply because she decided, of her own free will, to get drunk.

But while “No means No”, now Ms Saunders is claiming that “Yes” can sometimes mean “No” too. A woman can consent to sex, participate willingly and consciously, but, if she wakes up and wishes she hadn’t and can prove that she was drunk as a skunk at the time, she can now claim she was raped and the man might well end up on the sex offenders register.

This is absurd and goes against every principle of natural justice. Yet, despite this, Ms Saunders remains in her job. Allowing even one alleged paedophile to escape justice is one too many but, given how many people get drunk and have sex with someone that they later regret,

Ms Saunders could be the author of a far worse error of judgement than her decision not to prosecute Lord Janner. She could be responsible, not just for allowing one potentially guilty man to walk free, but for sending thousands of innocent men to prison for a crime that they did not commit.

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