Isn’t equality the driving force of our times?

Jurors in rape trials will be told more about the previous sexual behaviour of male defendants in a bid to increase the chances of conviction.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has told prosecutors to focus on the behaviour of men leading up to alleged rapes, rather than just the incident itself.

The move is intended to provide juries with a fuller picture of male suspect’s character, after a series of high profile rape trials ended in acquittals.

This at the same time as the screaming that mentioning the previous behaviour of the alleged victim should be ever more verboeten.

The rational person might assume that previous behaviour is a reasonable guide, or not a reasonable guide, either way.

18 thoughts on “Isn’t equality the driving force of our times?”

  1. It’s not about whether he is guilty of the crime charged but whether he appears capable of committing the crime. If he looks and sounds like a wrong ’un, he’ll suit the purpose. Sauce for the goose, girls will say.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    I still have a naive faith in the great British jury and believe that the more fingers the ruling elite place on the scales of justice the more juries will tell them to fuck off. Sadly, the logical conclusion, as far as the elite are concerned, is the removal of juries.

  3. BiND

    Have you every been collared for jury service? Mine was a depressing experience. Most of the jurors were unable to understand the evidence; one could barely speak English. The case involved someone being hit over the head with a pickaxe handle in a dispute about money. The evidence was so overwhelming that it was a classic open-and-shutter, yet many of the jurors gibbered so much irrelevant nonsense that the deliberation lengthened from its natural 30 seconds to something like an hour. They talked about the perp’s class, gave credence to preposterous claims by the defence witnesses, and even blamed the victim for being in a position to hire the defendant. Luckily there was one other bloke on the jury who, like me, had at least been to school, and together we explained to the others what a trial was and impressed on them the HUGE FUCKING HINTS dropped by the judge in his summing up (great judge, BTW, very fair but with a wry view of things, as I suppose one would acquire after a lifetime of having to assess lies). Result: guilty as charged. Sentence suspended. Cost to the taxpayer: £££.

    My opinion of the wisdom of juries took a bit of a knock, I have to say. The case should never have come to trial. Would have been easier, quicker and very much cheaper to observe lex talionis and let the victim whack the silly bastard over the head with another pickaxe handle.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Thomas,

    No I haven’t had that pleasure and its partly why I described my faith as naive.

    In the long run it sounds like the correct verdict was reached. I’m sure there are mistake but I can’t see any other protection.

  5. The article does read like it was dictated by Alison Saunders to gain support for her proposal (as it might well of been given modern journalistic standards)

  6. @DevonChap

    Pedantry alert. you mean *well have been*. Notice *have* not *of*. Modern commenting standards, pah.

  7. Presumably if the prosecution can bring up the sexual history of the accused, the defence can do likewise for the accuser?

    And anyway, exactly what ‘history’ is going to be brought up? A string of previous sexual liaisons where the women all gave consent?

    Is this not a case of the prosecution providing evidence of something not exactly beneficial to their case? If man has (for example) been going to pubs regularly and picking up slightly drunk women and taking them home for sex, and none of them have complained they were raped, and thus consented to sex, and then one does cry rape the next day, is this evidence actually more likely to make a jury convict, or less?

    Are they not looking at it all wrong? The principle is that a woman can always withdraw consent regardless of how many times previously she has consented with other people, hence the sexual history is irrelevant, and should not have any impact on the case in question. Whereas with a man if you show he has ‘convinced’ X number of women to consent to sex in similar circumstances to the alleged rape, how exactly does that help prove that this particular case was rape? Unless you can come up with a string of women who are prepared to say they didn’t consent to sex, in which case why isn’t he being charged with raping them as well?

  8. Have you every been collared for jury service? Mine was a depressing experience.

    I had my first taste this year (I’m unlikely to get another as I’ll be over the age limit in the not too distant). If you’ve led a sheltered existence, as I have, it’s an eye-opener, but I was impressed by the seriousness and attention of all my fellow jurors. Hell of a lot of sitting around involved and the expenses are pitiful!

    One war story: we were all sitting between cases in the jurors’ room (two panels, so around 30 people) and someone had brought in The Times and suggested we had a go at the T2 Concise Crossword (that’s definitions – not a cryptic one). I had to excuse myself a s I’d already done it on the bus coming in. One clue was “Conflagration (4 letters)” and no-one had the first idea what conflagration meant. A lesson for any barristers who might be reading ….

  9. @ Thomas Fuller: my experience of jury service a couple of years ago was the exact opposite – very impressed with how seriously the jury took their responsibilities in the two cases I was involved in.

  10. ‘a bid to increase the chances of conviction’

    The government’s objective is to increase convictions. Justice be damned.

  11. I don’t know much about the British system, but does the Director of Public Prosecutions have any say in what is or is not admissible? Isn’t that up to judges, appellate courts and precedent?
    Besmirching the character of a defendant is prejudicial, especially where juries decide the case.

  12. Chris Miller – I recall the age limit was extended recently. I thought I would be outside it having been called for jury service a year or so ago, but now I believe I will be eligible again.

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