Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Jailed man in bid to sue accuser

A man who spent two years in jail before being cleared of rape has started a High Court bid to claim damages from his accuser.

Tony Hunt, 65, from Dorset, was jailed for four years in 2003 but had his conviction quashed on appeal in 2005.

Mr Hunt, who maintains that the sex was consensual, has now launched a civil claim against the woman.

Her counsel said allowing compensation claims of this nature would discourage victims from coming forward.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was referred to in court as AB.

Her counsel, Anthony Metzer, told the court on Monday that any action could jeopardise the principle to encourage women to come forward to make allegations of this nature - if true.

'Huge significance'

Before the action can be tried the judge must decide whether Mr Hunt was prosecuted by his accuser.

"The assertion that (AB) is not the prosecutor in this matter is supported by a wealth of evidence showing her initial reluctance to disclose the incident, even less prosecute it," Mr Metzer said.

"It is further submitted that the evidence also shows how the decision to prosecute could in no way be said to be hers.

"It was still open to the Crown Prosecution Service to decline to bring a prosecution based on the evidence they had."

He said the case, which is believed to be the first bid to sue a complainant in such circumstances, had a huge significance to all those in AB's position.

Mr Hunt, from Blandford St Mary, had his conviction for the alleged 1995 offence overturned at the Court of Appeal when judges heard evidence from two new witnesses.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

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