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BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"The men's movement says it is too easy for women to accuse men of rape"
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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Minister to hear rape plea
The Mound, Edinburgh
The group took their petition to the parliament
MSPs are to ask Justice Minister Jim Wallace to consider granting anonymity to men accused of rape.

It follows a petition from the Glasgow-based UK Men's Movement which said it was unfair in rape trials for the accuser to be given anonymity, but not the accused.

A plea for stricter sentences to be imposed on women found to be making false allegations was rejected, as was a register of such women.

The petition was submitted to the Scottish Parliament's public petitions committee on Tuesday.

We are alarmed by the proliferation of false rape allegations

George McAulay, UK Men's Movement
The group's leaders claim it is too easy for women falsely to accuse men of the crime.

They say that men who are accused of rape should be given anonymity until found guilty and that malicious claims should result in sentences equivalent to those handed down for the crime.

The group also wanted a register of false rape accusers - similar to the register of sex offenders - and a study of how the legal system deals with false accusations.

Spokesman George McAulay pointed to research in the United States which has shown that a quarter of men who have been convicted of rape are innocent.

Malicious claims

He said: "We are alarmed by the proliferation of false rape allegations, and the seeming indifference with which the authorities treat this offence, often not prosecuting even when there was a prima facie case of false allegation to answer, and even when the accuser admitted it was a complete fabrication.

"False rape claims may be made for a number of reasons, the most common being revenge, attention-seeking, malice, fiscal reward via the Criminal Injuries Board or civil suit, and advantage in marital disputes now that prosecutions are made for rape in marriage."

Court graphic
Rape cases are tried in the High Court
Professor Sheila McLean of Glasgow University, an expert on medical and legal ethics, dismissed the proposals as unworkable.

She said that the notion of a register of "false accusers" would serve no purpose as it was often difficult to establish whether allegations had been made maliciously.

It would therefore be difficult to prosecute malicious accusers.

She agreed anonymity for the accused would be more just, but added: "You have to remember that, even if the press was banned from reporting the name, these hearings would still be in open court and it would still circulate.

"You could only prevent that by a closed hearing which presents natural justice problems of its own."

The Scottish Executive has already unveiled plans to prevent alleged rape victims undergoing harrowing cross-examinations.

Proposals, designed to protect vulnerable witnesses, include plans to restrict cross-examination on sexual history, allow witnesses to give evidence by other means and inform affected witnesses and alleged victims about releases on bail.

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07 Apr 00 | UK
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