Scottish Rape Law under Review

Photo courtesy of: Chase Carter

by Sylwia Heller

Currently Scotland reviews its legal protection provided for rape victims. It is a result of Wales’s footballer Ched Evans’s case, which was finally concluded last month. At that time, in October this 27 years old man was cleared of rape charges at a retrial.,

Although, in 2012 he was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old girl in a hotel room in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire. For that he was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. But, his conviction was quashed on appeal in April. By that time he had already spent half of the sentence in prison. He was also found not guilty at a subsequent retrial.

Evans was acquitted because of a new evidence in the form of sexual history of the complainant. Although, usually such evidence is not allowed to be presented in the court, Baroness Williams explained that in some circumstances when “a strict set of criteria are met” it is allowed.

Lady Justice Hallett also said that it was a rare case where forensic examination of the woman’s sexual behaviour was appropriate.

Nevertheless, the defendant constantly denied having sex with the victim while she was too drunk to consent. Instead he claimed that she invited him to join in while she had consensual sex with another footballer, Clayton (27 years old). The latter was found not guilty of rape.

Because of the circumstances described above the main principles under section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 were disregarded. This legislation puts tight restrictions on details of victim’s sexual past, which can be presented at a trial. It is allowed only in exceptional circumstances, which occurred in this case, according to the judges.

Because of this case calls for a report were made during the committee stage of the Policing and Crime Bill in the House of Lords. It is because there are public concerns about whether the legislation started to lack its original strict guidelines. Besides, this case can negatively influence the number of reported cases of rape.

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