Page last updated at 20:37 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Cleared rape accused denied claim

A man who spent two years in jail before being cleared of rape has had his attempt to claim damages from his accuser denied at the High Court.

Anthony Hunt, 65, of Blandford St Mary, Dorset, was jailed for four years in 2003 but had his conviction quashed on appeal in 2005.

Mr Hunt, who maintains the sex was consensual, launched a civil claim against his accuser on Monday.

But on Thursday Mr Justice Blake ruled that the woman was not the prosecutor.

Mr Hunt's claim against his accuser was for malicious prosecution.

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

'Reluctance to report'

Mr Hunt, a former senior traffic warden, had his conviction for the alleged 1995 offence overturned at the Court of Appeal in December 2005, when judges heard evidence from two new witnesses.

The conviction was also quashed on the basis of inadequate direction to the jury.

Mr Hunt argued that the woman became the prosecutor by giving a witness statement to police in 2002 and by agreeing to give evidence against him - although the charge was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

AB's counsel, Anthony Metzer, said there was a "wealth of evidence" showing her initial reluctance to report the incident, let alone prosecute Mr Hunt.

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.

'Aggrieved'

The court heard the chain of events leading to the prosecution of Mr Hunt was started by a friend of AB, who she had spoken to in confidence.

Mr Metzer said that if Mr Hunt was right, and that AB could be considered the prosecutor, then the result - of being able to claim damages - was against the modern principle of, wherever possible, encouraging women to come forward to make allegations, if true.

Dismissing the claim, Mr Justice Blake said the charge against Mr Hunt had been brought as the result of a thorough investigation.

He concluded there was nothing to indicate in the law that AB should be regarded as the prosecutor.

He added he was conscious Mr Hunt would be aggrieved about what had happened and the lack of compensation.

Mr Hunt was refused permission to appeal against the decision.



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