Female Labour MPs Urge Change In Rape Laws After Ched Evans Trial

The retrial of Ched Evans sets a dangerous precedent for rape cases, they warn

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More than 40 female Labour MPs have come together to write to the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, warning that the retrial of Ched Evans may make women less likely to report rape, and calling for a change in the law to prevent the sexual history of rape complainants being used to discredit their evidence in court.

This plea comes after details about the sexual history of the complainant in the retrial of Ched Evans, former Welsh footballer, were used to quash the conviction.

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Jess Phillips, Angela Eagle and Harriet Harman are among the members of the Women's parliamentary Labour Party who wrote that 'the verdict and events in this case set a dangerous precedent that how a victim of rape, usually a woman, has behaved in the past can be taken as evidence of the way she behaved at the time of the alleged rape.'

'This will deter victims from disclosing their abuse and will reduce the number of victims presenting their cases to the police for fear of having their private lives investigated and scrutinised' they said.

Labour MP Jess Phillips
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The MPs added that there was an additional risk that in the age of social media and online stalking, victims could fall prey to private investigations and the crowdsourcing of information into their past sexual partners.

They are asking Wright and the justice secretary, Liz Truss, to change the law so that the complainant's sexual history can only be used when the similar conduct is unusual and out of the ordinary.

The MPs are now demanding a meeting with Wright and the Ministry of Justice to discuss a change in the laws.

'We must act to cease the return to a culture of "victim blaming". We believe that the use of a complainants' sexual history should never be used in our courts as evidence of consent,' they said. 'We are calling on the government to act'.

Labour MP Jess Phillips is also planning to raise the issue in the House of Commons at Attorney General questions and call for a debate.

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