Laura Perrins: Our feminised justice system will create show trials

Writing in today's Daily Mail, co-editor Laura Perrins makes the case against pre-recorded evidence at rape trials:

It is the Crown’s duty to prove the guilt of a defendant beyond reasonable doubt.

However, this principle has been eroded by recent Tory and Labour governments which have changed the way court cases are conducted.

The latest attack is the suggestion that in rape trials the alleged victim should be able to give ‘recorded cross-examination’ that is played to the court.

This is wrong. It is nothing less than political interference in the justice system.

Read the rest of Laura's article at this link.

(Image: James Cridland)

Laura Perrins

  • Bik Byro

    The court system has often been biased against men. Starting with access to children and the assumption that the mother is always the best parent to have the child.
    A father can be denied access to his child on relatively trivial bases, whereas a mother practically has to be Myra Hindley before the child is removed from her.

  • Colkitto03

    Good article,
    Another important consideration also is that the very introduction of the video link itself, infers that the ‘victim’ has actually been subject to the crime. It will subliminally prejudice the Jury. The implied message is that ‘we already beleive this victim and are taking measures to protect them.’
    For adults the question of whether any supposed victim is traumatised or not should not be assumed or implied.
    Any trauma may be relavent at sentancing but is not the least bit relevant during any trial.

  • James Chilton

    Justice will not be served if a defendant cannot see his accuser in open court. The demeanour of the accuser is relevant to the judge and jury in reaching a verdict and deciding what punishment, if any, is appropriate.

    • James Chilton wrote:

      Justice will not be served if a defendant cannot see his accuser in open court. The demeanour of the accuser is relevant to the judge and jury in reaching a verdict … ‘

      I think a greater concern is that accusers could be coached, dressed, made up, lit etc. sessions re-shot, several times, and tapes edited, all for the ostensible purpose of providing ‘support’ but actually to refine what may well be a very shaky or non-existent case into an emotion manipulating and compelling production that leads to a serious miscarriage of justice.

      Diana Davison has published a number of very thoughtful video critiques of court cases brought from false rape allegations, solely for political reasons. One in particular stands out, although I cannot give a link or reference to it, because the falsely alleging ‘victim’ (recte the actual assailant), who had made accusations against a Canadian media celebrity described her experiences, in one video at least, in a way that was markedly theatrical and strongly suggested that she thoroughly enjoyed and was aroused by the experience of telling her story, and expected to be believed even though it was riddled with contradictions and outright falsehoods.

      Another consideration comes from the recent exemption of women who have become pregnant as a result of an alleged rape from the cap on Child Tax Credits. The worry here is not just that some women will inevitably make claims that are not true; it is also that the claims do not have to be proved in court after an investigation but can be verified by a number of organisations including social services and rape counsellors, neither of which are known to be impartial on the issue. We could, and very probably will, see such organisations involved in the professionally polished production of videotaped evidence that will come to be considered simply as emotional confirmation of presumed guilt.

      • James Chilton

        Your point about the theatrical possibilities in presenting evidence by video – including rehearsals, costumes, lighting, etc. – is very persuasive. I have no doubt these advantages for the “plaintiff” will be ruthlessly exploited when this procedure in rape cases becomes available.

        The next logical step for “Liz” Truss would be to do away with the presumption of innocence in all rape cases. Alternatively, she could introduce trial by ordeal………..

        • James Chilton wrote:

          ‘ … “Liz” Truss … ‘

          That brought a smile to my face: I saw just the other day that she’s now referred to as Elizabeth Truss. I think the time is not far off when she becomes such a liability that her career cannot be supported by any sort of truss.

      • John P Hughes

        The Canadian case is that of Jian Ghomeshi, who was a leading interviewer and TV personality on CBC. In 2015 he was prosecuted for three cases of assault (not all three were deemed sexual assault), and was acquitted because the evidence of the women who had been involved with him was discredited, one example being quoted above. Ghomeshi in his private life turned out not to be as smooth and charming as he was on TV, but he did not commit any crime. No one gained from the whole affair, neither Jian Ghomeshi who was sacked by CBC, nor the women he had had the affairs with who were found in some respects to have concocted their stories, nor the CBC which was exposed as having not required better behaviour of Ghomeshi in his work despite knowing of his unsatisfactory ways..

  • Sargv

    I think there’s nothing wrong with protecting alleged victims in rape cases.

    What’s wrong is that false accusations are not being punished. Every rape accusation that didn’t end up in conviction must be automatically investigated on being intentionally false. If this would be found to be the case, full reputational damages and legal costs must be covered by offender, plus an obstruction of justice charge.

    • Mike Hunt

      Trouble is someone may be acquitted simply because the jury did not consider there was enough evidence to reliably convict– this does not mean the rape did not take place. I think it’s up to judge to control aggressive questioning . I think accusers should continue to give live evidence , but be better managed by the judge . Yes sexual history can be relevant , you only have to look at Ched Evans case to appreciate this . Perhaps this type of thing should be discussed with the judge before hand , maybe even a list of questions submitted to the judge .

      • Sargv

        > Trouble is someone may be acquitted simply because the jury did not consider there was enough evidence to reliably convict

        He not being accused doesn’t make her automatically guilty. It’d be still up to prosecution to prove that allegation was intentionally false, so I can’t see any trouble here.

      • James Chilton

        The standard of proof for conviction in a criminal trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. If a jury does not consider there is enough evidence to reach this standard, it has a duty to acquit.

        There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence – even in cases of rape – until proved otherwise.

        • ReefKnot

          ‘Unless’ proved otherwise, not ‘ until’.
          So, if found ‘not guilty’ the defendant remains innocent.

          • James Chilton

            There is a distinction between “unless” and “until” and I’m aware of it. In the comment you refer to, there was no ambiguity that mattered.

      • Mike Hunt wrote:

        Trouble is someone may be acquitted simply because the jury did not consider there was enough evidence to reliably convict– this does not mean the rape did not take place.

        I have long thought that we might reasonably look at having more verdicts available to juries. My own preference, as a legally illiterate layman, is to consider the desirability and practicability of four.

        The first would be Guilty, where the evidence proves beyond doubt that the accused committed the crime with which he has been charged.

        The second could be Not Proven, where a jury believes that the accused probably committed the crime but the evidence is inconclusive and a conviction therefore unsafe. That verdict leaves an accused who is probably guilty with something of the stigma of a conviction and leaves him therefore with something of a criminal record.

        The third would be, as now, Not Guilty, where the evidence is He said, She said and he could be guilty, she could be lying, we can never know.

        The fourth would be an unequivocal Innocent, perhaps dressed up with some fancy phrasing. In this case the proof of an accused’s innocence cannot but be proof of some criminal offence on the part of someone else, whether the accuser, ‘The Police’ or the CPS. Very severe punishments should be meted out, and there can be no mitigating circumstances.

        • Davidsb

          The second could be Not Proven, where a jury believes that the accused probably committed the crime but the evidence is inconclusive and a conviction therefore unsafe.

          In addition, the verdict ‘Not Proven’ could prohibit the accused from entering a claim for false arrest/imprisonment, thus (hopefully) putting a nail in the coffins of no-win-no-fee lawyers.

          • “Not Proven” is in my recollection, used somewhere, probably in the States, it is not a bad idea at all. Innocent vs Not Guilty may well have some utility.

          • Davidsb

            Not Proven is a valid verdict in the Scottish legal system – I don’t know of any other countries which use it.

          • Yep, thanks, that’s where I heard it. Sometimes stuff just runs together.

    • Corblimey

      Too easy and sensible for our activist judges and give the wrong idea about equal rights.

  • Laura, are you aware that the Daily Mail has stated your name as “Laura Mullins” twice in the article?

    Otherwise, a well-stated article.

    • Laura Perrins

      Yes I noticed. They have changed it now.

  • Lagopus scotica

    We also need to end the secretive system of family courts. How can it be right that serious decisions are taken affecting people’s lives without there being public knowledge?

    • Busy Mum

      Yes – it’s amazing what people get away with by claiming to be acting ‘in the best interests of the children’.

      • Colkitto03

        Yes indeed, and its being going on for a long time. Such as shipping of tens of thousands of kids off all around the Empire to unvetted conditions.

        • Cassandra

          Those were much tougher times than now in all sorts of ways.

        • Busy Mum

          Though I think some of those children were war-orphans?

        • Corblimey

          Most would have been glad to have had a free trip to Australia and Naziland!

      • Cassandra

        Especially when they are ‘social workers’ with paper qualifications steeped in leftist ideology.

        In Northern towns which were the scene of mass grooming of young girls, social workers like the police refrained from intervening, despite appeals from parents, thanks to political correctness, including the left liberal formula that these kids were said to have made a ‘lifestyle choice’.

        • Groan

          And of course not forgetting the fear of appearing “racist” tackling gangs who were in fact racist in targeting outside their community.

        • Corblimey

          Better to sacrifice innocent underage children than to suffer riots and car burnings though?

          • Greenlander

            Community cohesion, the same reason that allowed prophesy to be fulfilled when they crucified Christ.

        • Greenlander

          The same social workers who will go into a prison and tell the prisoners that they are victims too.
          Daddy never gave you a lollipop is why you beat that old woman to death.

      • Bik Byro
      • Benthic

        It did not do the children much good in Rotherham.

  • Timmy

    At this point, why even bother with a trial at all?

    • Tom B

      That’s the feminist long term plan , their goal is to remove juries from sexual assualt cases all together . They want the accusation as the guilty verdict .

      • Craig Martin

        This is absolutely true.

      • Greenlander

        Women don’t lie, or fart.

        • Cassandra

          Ladies don’t, but there are few ladies nowadays but plenty of wimmin.

  • StaffsBrief

    I’ve been prosecuting and defending sex cases for over 30 years. The great problem with video recordings as used now in some sex cases is that the evidence loses its impact on the jury. Most rape cases rely on two witnesses who usually know each other: a woman who says she was raped and a man who says she consented. If I were defending someone accused of rape I’d be content to allow the prosecution to proceed on with the accuser’s evidence (if properly cross-examined) on video then put a live defendant in the witness box to rebut that evidence. At the forefront of the jurors’ minds will be the live evidence they have just heard. Bear in mind also that the jury does not take the video recording or a transcript of it into the jury room, they have the judge’s summing-up of the evidence from both sides. What is crucial is that the alleged victim’s account is properly cross-examined on the video and that can be done. We do it now in court and it can be done outside court. Who knows, it might be that some cases are dropped when the weaknesses in the accuser’s story are exposed sparing everyone a 2 or 3 day trial?

    • Colkitto03

      Thats an interesting perspective,food for thought.

    • Laura Perrins

      I have heard this said also. Giving evidence via video link can also lessen impact. Thank you for this perspective.

      • Greenlander

        This proposal isn’t a video link as the original article stated, it is a prerecorded interview. Lights, camera action.

    • SteadyOn

      I’d tend to agree. However, I question whether there are other ways of diminishing the trauma of a rape victim giving evidence to a court without reducing either the power of the evidence given or the jury’s ability to assess the reliability of the witness. For example, a great deal of the argument seems to rest on the ability of an alleged perpetrator to cross exam his/her victim. Are there other ways of managing that process?

      My concern is partly driven by the evidence that Ms Truss cites with regard to conviction rates for child sexual abuse cases. I would guess that those cases are often quite different to those relating adult victims of sexual crimes and that the motivation for bringing them may be very different.

      This is a tough one, and it’s clear that there must be a balance between protecting victims and upholding the rights of those accused. I don’t hesitate to add that mine is a far from expert opinion – and would thank you for your informed comments which add important nuance to the debate.

    • James Chilton

      If the presentation of evidence by video in sex cases tends to diminish its impact on juries, that suggests the procedure could work in the defendant’s favour. I don’t think such a possibility is what Liz Truss has in mind.

      • Corblimey

        Has Liz Truss ever been raped?

    • Corblimey

      If we adopted the Muslim Sharia principle this problem would not exist. Some Muslim countries insist on three reliable male witnesses to testify rape and these countries are still in the UN.

  • Groan

    As an ordinary person I do think the principles of our legal system are vital. For it is not the complainant who prosecutes but “the Crown”. Thus the defendant in any case faces the full power of the Crown in court. Quite rightly the crown has to prove its case rather than the other way round for unless the defendant has considerable personal resources or backers then they are comparatively weak in the face of the Crown. The Court’s job is to take into account the power imbalance and protect the weaker, the defendant.
    Much of the traducing of due process is based on the undoubted emotional appeal of “the victim” and their powerlessness. Side stepping the fact that the “victim” complainant has the Crown and all its resources on their side once the prosecution is made.

    • Colkitto03

      Well said,
      The era we live in if defined by the conceit of our politicians and media who believe they are wiser than those who came before us.

    • Greenlander

      The victim would appear even more powerless when shown on a screen in a prerecorded interview. “the poor girl must be terrified if she can’t come to face that horrible brute.” And that’s before the trial begins.

  • Philip Walling

    I’m not surprised about this.
    There are few convictions for rape nowadays and the feminazis are not happy about it.

    One case I know about was where a girl university student, not inexperienced in sexual matters and not exactly sober, took a young man (a little the worse for drink) to bed. They had consensual intercourse, they both fell asleep and the girl was later awakened by the young man having his way with her again. She told him to stop, which he did.

    Two days later she told her friend about it, who alerted some counsellor at the university, who then interviewed the girl and pressed her into contacting the police.
    The boy was rapidly acquitted at trial after a dreadful experience and the girl finally admitting under cross-examination, that she had not raelly wanted to have the boy prosecuted. The girl remains anonymous.

    What effect would this latest proposal have had on the outcome?

  • Patrick Selden

    This proposal is a fundamental assault on the principle of innocent until proven guilty, which keeps us all safe from state tyranny, so it must be fiercely resisted.

    • tattyhead65

      I think something this important could warrant a letter to the MP. http://www.writetothem.com is a good way of doing it.

  • Excellent article, Laura, as usual.

    But the right to confront one’s accuser goes back much further, to Rome and trial by combat. I much fear you (and we similarly) will again be writing accounts such as this.

    “The most notorious instances of civil-law examination occurred in the great political trials of the 16th and 17th centuries. One such was the 1603 trial of Sir Walter Raleigh for treason. Lord Cobham, Raleigh’s alleged accomplice, had implicated him in an examination before the Privy Council and in a letter. At Raleigh’s trial, these were read to the jury. Raleigh argued that Cobham had lied to save himself: “Cobham is absolutely in the King’s mercy; to excuse me cannot avail him; by accusing me he may hope for favour.” 1 D. Jardine, Criminal Trials 435 (1832). Suspecting that Cobham would recant, Raleigh demanded that the judges call him to appear, arguing that “[t]he Proof of the Common Law is by witness and jury: let Cobham be here, let him speak it. Call my accuser before my face . . . .” 2 How. St. Tr., at 15-16. The judges refused, id., at 24, and, despite Raleigh’s protestations that he was being tried “by the Spanish Inquisition,” id., at 15, the jury convicted, and Raleigh was sentenced to death.

    One of Raleigh’s trial judges later lamented that “`the justice of England has never been so degraded and injured as by the condemnation of Sir Walter Raleigh.’” 1 Jardine, supra, at 520. Through a series of statutory and judicial reforms, English law developed a right of confrontation that limited these abuses.”

    From: http://fixfamilycourts.com/daily-tool-confrontation-clause-how-does-this-protect-you-from-judge-conferring-with-your-child

    • Colkitto03

      Absolutely. the traditions of our law (both countries) are there because of centuries of thought and consideration of our forbears. Under Blair the UK gave up Double jeopardy with virtually no debate as to why that law was in place in the first place.
      We are in danger of the Law no longer being the common Law of the people and replacing it with the Law of the establishment

      • That’s a very bad thing to give up. But your government (especially Blair) has a history of such. We’re a bit luckier, our founders looked at every abuse in England and did their best to make sure they didn’t happen here. A supreme constitution is a good thing. In fact, our Bill of Rights is almost verbatim from yours, most of which has been rescinded. Sure most of what they were writing against were perpetrated by the King, but seems to me that Parliament (really HMG) is just as bad.

  • PierrePendre

    Limiting defendants’ right is a trend resulting from the rising influence of grievance groups and the willingness of government to appease them. Feminists want automatic credence given to any complaint of sexual misconduct which at a stroke does away with the presumption of innocence; Muslims want the re-introduction of blasphemy laws which in practice would apply only to Mohammed and Allah.

    Rape has traditionally been seen as second only to murder in the hierarchy of crimes. If rape is accorded such gravity – which it should be – then so should false allegations of rape, given the seriousness of the consequences for an accused.

    Our obsession with rights and with meeting the grievances of a growing number of single issue pressure groups inevitably means the sectorialisation of the common law which is the essential glue of consensual society. Politicians are increasingly squandering this inheritance from a more considered past as the easy way out of problems that can cost them popularity with noisy minorities. But we all pay the price.

    • Greenlander

      The argument against charging those who failed to convince a jury that they were raped with making a false allegation is that it may deter other alleged victims from coming forward.

      • PierrePendre

        I don’t know how many women are charged with making false rape allegations after acquittals but I suspect that not many are if the CPS thought the case was strong enough to try in the first place but a jury doesn’t agree that the definition of rape has been met. No one would quarrel with that. But definitions of sexual crime have been hopelessly politicised at the behest of feminist activists who insist for example that a drunk woman who regrets having had sex with a drunk man can claim she was raped on the grounds that she was not responsible while he knew exactly what he was doing. We rely on the expertise of the police and the CPS to be identify dubious rape claims. But a Scottish lawyer I know said that it was policy in Scotland to prosecute all allegations of sexual crime. If you join that policy to an assumption that all complainants are automatically to be believed, not much actual justice is liable to result.