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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 10:04 GMT
'New date rape laws planned'
Ulrika Jonsson
Ulrika's claims have put the spotlight on date rape
Men accused of rape could have to prove they tried to ensure they got their partner's consent before sex under new proposals being examined by ministers.

The idea comes in the wake of claims from television presenter Ulrika Jonsson that she was raped while on a date when she was 19.

The government is set to unveil new measures on sexual offences next month and it is reported the law on date rape will be tightened.

Campaigners point to figures suggesting that as few as one in 10 reports of rape result in a conviction.

'Honest belief'

Under the reported plans, men accused of date rape would not be able to claim as a defence that they genuinely believed their partner wanted to have sex.

A Home Office report in 2000 recommended dropping the "honest belief" defence in certain cases.

We intend to bring forward legislation to provide root and branch reform on sex offences

Home Office spokesman

The report said: "A defence of honest belief in free agreement should not be available if there was self-induced intoxication, recklessness as to consent, or if the accused did not take all reasonable steps in the circumstances to ascertain free agreement at the time."

Now the idea looks set to form part of the new law reform package.

Home Office sources told The Observer newspaper: "It is important that people see rape as something that is not only about a stranger attacking you."

A department spokesman would not go into such details.

The spokesman said: "This why we set up the sex offences review and we intend to bring forward legislation to provide root and branch reform on sex offences.

"But we cannot speculate on any forthcoming legislative proposals before they are introduced."

Police role

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said police attitudes to rape had shifted.

"We deal with them in a sensitive way - not before time, I might say," Sir John told GMTV's Sunday programme.

The police chief added: "It is absolutely essential that if a woman goes through the trauma of rape, whatever the circumstances, that she reports it to the police."

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin argued the "right result" for changes in the law would be a balance between protection for women against rape and for men against "malicious claims".

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 ON THIS STORY
Angela Bradburn
"He dragged me back to a friend's house"
See also:

17 Oct 02 | Entertainment
23 Jul 02 | UK
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