Over the weekend Exaro News published a number of stories concerning an allegation that a former cabinet minister raped a 19 year old women in 1967. Part of one of the stories is quoted below with a link.
The stories suggest that the police investigating this allegation ‘bowed to political sensitivities’ by failing to pursue this allegation thoroughly and it is this suggestion that I want to look at.
Let me begin by saying that I do not doubt the account given by the victim, who Exaro call ‘Jane’. Like many I’ve been aware of this particular allegation for over a year, though I was ignorant, until now, of the precise details. A case file was passed to the CPS last summer and it was decided not to pursue charges against the individual who from this point onward I will refer to as Mr X.
Why was this when the account seemed detailed and compelling ?
It needs to first be noted that this particular allegation against Mr X is very different to other allegations that have been made against him. This allegation involves the rape of an adult female in 1967, other allegations, of varying degrees of plausibility, involve the sexual abuse of young boys in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This does not mean that Mr X could not have committed both types of crime but, as I’ll try and explain, it would have helped make the chances of a conviction remote.
At the end of the day, if the CPS had agreed to pursue charges against Mr X, it would have been Jane’s word against Mr X. After 47 years there would have been no forensic evidence and there were no witnesses to the rape. Even if Mr X could be placed at the ‘crime scene’ the prosecution would still have to have proven that Jane did not consent and all of this ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ for a jury to find Mr X guilty of rape.
This does not mean that Mr X did not rape Jane. It just means that the chances of a successful conviction would have been extremely remote.
In every recent prosecution of historic sexual abuse, whether successful or unsuccessful, there have been multiple witnesses making allegations. This is because, in the absence of forensic evidence or eye-witnesses, the prosecution hope to demonstrate through corroborative testimony of independent witnesses a Modus Operandi, of the accused.
The case of Max Clifford is a case in point. The prosecution were able to satisfactorily demonstrate to the Jury that Max Clifford had a certain way of operating because multiple independent witnesses corroborated each other’s testimony. However, if there had only been one witness making an allegation against Max Clifford, even if it had been one that has subsequently resulted in a guilty verdict, it would have been extremely unlikely to succeed.
I’m unaware of any other allegations against Mr X regarding the rape of an adult female. Other allegations involve the sexual abuse of young boys. Even if I were to believe every allegation of sexual abuse of young boys by Mr X, and I do not, and even if the police had decided to charge Mr X with the rape of Jane as well as the sexual abuse of boys, Jane could not have expected other victims to have corroborated her testimony. It would still have been her word against his.
And so, to answer the question in the title of this piece; Why did police fail to pursue rape allegations against a former cabinet minister ?
The answer is fairly simple and one doesn’t need a conspiracy or a supine police force afraid of prosecuting powerful individuals to get there. The answer is that the police do not have enough evidence.
Because it is well to remember that however compelling or detailed an allegation is the police and CPS need evidence.
My own view is that if the police ever had enough evidence to charge Mr X, or indeed any powerful person, they would not hesitate to do so.
Police stand accused of bowing to political sensitivities to avoid questioning a former Conservative cabinet minister about a claim that he raped a teenage woman.
The alleged victim says that in 1967 the ex-minister, before he became an MP, tricked her into his flat, locked her in, then raped her. She was a 19-year-old student at the time.
In extensive interviews with Exaro the woman, and her long-term partner accuse police of looking for excuses to shelve the investigation into her allegations against the ex-minster.
She told Exaro “I am concerned people may be protecting him.”If you compare the handling of this case with some of the ‘celebrity’ investigations, there appears to be an inconsistency. Celebrities were quickly interviewed by police, and yet the allegations are similar.”