WOMEN’S charities slammed Tory MPs’ call for those accused of rape to remain anonymous yesterday, warning that it was “unjustifiable” and will treat victims as “liars.”
Rape Crisis hit back after Mark Pritchard (pictured) and Nigel Evans demanded that the law of anonymity be changed to protect the accused as well as the victims of sexual offences.
Mr Pritchard had been arrested in early December over allegations of rape, but the case was dropped yesterday due to lack of evidence.
A Rape Crisis spokeswoman told the Star the group was “concerned that singling out rape and sexual assault for defendant anonymity would send a message that women who report these crimes are more likely to be lying than people who report other kinds of crime.
“This is a commonly held and damaging myth, which we know through our front-line work often prevents women and girls who’ve experienced sexual violence from coming forward to seek the justice or support they want and deserve for fear of not being believed.
“The idea of exceptional treatment for sexual assault defendants seems unjustifiable.”
Mr Pritchard, who has been the MP for Wrekin since 2005, described his case as a “vindictive and outrageous story” and insisted he had been “falsely accused.”
Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans backed Mr Pritchard’s call, saying: “I think the time has come to redress the balance, to get anonymity for both alleged victim and the accused — at least until there is a charge.”
Mr Evans himself was cleared of a series of sexual offences last April.
But support groups for rape victims vehemently opposed the idea that the law is in need of review.
“Just because something is dropped by the police because there’s not enough evidence, it doesn’t mean that that was actually a false allegation,” said Women Against Rape case worker Alex Brew.
“The only justification to make rape a special case would be the myth that loads of women are lying about it, which is not what we see.”
The Crown Prosecution Service points to a lower-than-1 per cent rate of false rape accusations.
According to Rape Crisis, only 15 per cent of women come forward after being raped.