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Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK


Judge urges false rape claim register

A judge has been criticised for suggesting that women who make false rape allegations should be put on a register.

Judge David Bryant said there was a good case for the setting up of a register to log the names of women who falsely accuse men of raping them.

The BBC's Joshua Rozenberg reports on the judge's comments
His comments followed the collapse of a case against a man accused of raping a 16-year-old girl after police discovered she had made similar allegations against other people, which had been dismissed after a lengthy police investigation.

Speaking at Teesside Crown Court, the judge said: "It seems to me that the case shows a need for some sort of register which may be the obverse of a Sex Offenders' Register."

'Outrageous idea'

He said the defendant in the case had gone through an "extremely unpleasant case" and expressed concern that other people could suffer similarly.

But his proposal was attacked as "outrageous" and 'unhelpful' by campaign groups.

They said it was hard to see how such a register could separate malicious and false allegations from cases where there simply was not enough evidence to proceed - as happened in so many rape cases.

Jenny Watson from Victim Support says that a register would result in far fewer women coming forward to report
A spokeswoman for Rights of Women pressure group said: "Statistics show that the likelihood of rape cases getting to court is very low, let alone securing a conviction.

"Given that the law is already so weighted against women, we should be looking at protecting them rather than targeting the few, if any, women who make false allegations. It's outrageous."

Victim Support said even if a woman withdrew an allegation of rape, she was not necessarily making it up.

A spokeswoman said: "There are so many reasons why a woman withdraws an allegation and goes to the police and says she made it up, particularly when it's a rape in the family.

"She could have come under pressure to drop the allegation.

"When the government is trying to encourage more women to come forward and report rape cases, comments like this are most unhelpful."

Judge defends comments

Later the judge said the only people who would appear on such a register would be those who had been shown beyond doubt to have made false allegations.

In a statement issued through the Lord Chancellor's Department he added: "In the rare instances where this occurs it is better that such claims - made by either men or women - should be filtered out at the earliest opportunity.

"This would save considerable distress for all the parties and would also avoid the waste of police, CPS and court resources.

"The only people who would appear on such a register would be those who had been shown beyond doubt to have made false allegations.

"My proposal would in no way inhibit legitimate victims from reporting rapes or indecent assaults."

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