Wednesday, 19 October 2016

I Fought the Law

Image result for I fought the law + images

A cornerstone of the law in the UK is that an accused person can only be tried on the evidence uncovered during an alleged crime - their previous criminal record (if they have one) cannot be taken into account under any circumstances. 

So, even if a person has a history of committing similar offences in the past, their criminal history cannot be raised in court for fear of 'tainting' the jury and the evidence they have to consider before reaching a verdict. 

In the following article for The Guardian, Vera Baird (a lawyer) explores some of the legal arguments surrounding the Ched Evans case which has overturned a rape conviction solely on the grounds of the victim's sexual history.

Dani Garavelli also wrote a thoughtful piece in Scotland on Sunday the other day which you can find via the Scotsman link below.

We cannot allow the courts to judge rape by sexual history

By Vera Baird - The Guardian

The Ched Evans case threatens women’s right to fair treatment in the courtroom. Battles won may have to be fought again

Ched Evans and his fiancee Natasha Massey outside Cardiff crown court. Photograph: Huw Evans/Rex Features

The footballer Ched Evans had much to say following his rape acquittal, and the weekend newspapers gave him a platform to say it. Now rape campaigners must come to terms with the legacy of his case. By clearing the way for two men to tell the jury they’d had sex with the complainant, the court of appeal effectively converted his earlier conviction into an acquittal. Some lawyers say this was a rare case and doubt that, as a precedent, it will affect many future cases. But other lawyers – and I am one of them – fear that rape trials could become inquisitions into the complainant’s sex life.

We seem to be returning to a mindset and practices we thought were confined to history. In seeking – as we now must – to find a new way forward, it’s worth recalling how we reached this point.

The fear of a complainant being confronted with evidence relating to sex with other men is, and has always been, a huge deterrent to reporting rape. In 1976 judges were given powers to prevent defence lawyers using that tactic, but the discretion they enjoyed was wide, unregulated and infrequently used. So a rape defendant could bring Mr B and Mr C to testify that the complainant had had consensual sex with them. The argument would run, she consented to me as well because she’ll have sex with anyone. The two arguments – she’s a tart and you can’t believe a word she says – were what women, not surprisingly, feared. These were the “twin myths” that flowed from the use of previous sexual history.

Dani Garavelli: Why women shudder at Evans trial verdict Footballer 

The worst thing about the Ched Evans retrial was not his acquittal – though the way the case was handled raises questions about the criminal justice system – it was the wave of misogyny it unleashed among the kind of men who think women are “asking for it”, and the rekindling of falsehoods about the prevalence of malicious allegations. 

The outpouring of vitriol towards the woman at the centre of the case – the demands for her to be arrested, thrown in prison, “raped for real” for her “lies” – were not only a distortion of the jury’s position on her reliability, but an insight into the hatred of women that flourishes in the darkest corners of society. 

Some of those men blame her for “ruining” the striker’s career at Sheffield United, though, she is the one whose life has been systematically destroyed. While Evans is already back playing, this time at Chesterfield, her reputation has been trashed. Illegally identified on Twitter by Evans’ supporters, she had to assume a new identity for her own protection. 

Sick Football Culture (15/10/16)

Ched Evans (centre), who was found not guilty of rape, listens with his girlfriend as his solicitor reads out a statement after his acquital
Ched Evans (centre), who was found not guilty of rape, listens with his girlfriend as his solicitor reads out a statement after his acquittal CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

Oliver Brown, chief sportswriter at The Telegraph, had some harsh words for Ched Evans and his supporters following the Court of Appeal's controversial decision to overturn the footballer's conviction for rape.

"The established facts of what happened at the Premier Inn near Rhyl on the night of May 30, 2011, are sordid enough: Evans lied, as he admitted in court, to obtain the key that gained access to the bedroom, did not speak to the young woman before, during or after sex, then left the hotel by a fire exit.

"As for the impression of contrition, forget it. His statement on Friday that he “wholeheartedly apologised to anyone who might have been affected by the events of the night in question” does not square with the fact that he has stood by while a website has published horrendous character assassinations of the woman concerned. Her life, to a greater extent even than his, has been ruined. If a man such as Evans is now to be made a martyr, then the culture of football in Britain truly is sicker than we thought."

Read the rest of what is a challenging and thoughtful article via the following link to The Telegraph:


'Team Ched' show just how sick football culture in Britain is

BY OLIVER BROWN - The Telegraph

“Naturally delighted.” These were the indelicate words of Chris Turner, Chesterfield’s chief executive, upon hearing that Ched Evans was no longer a convicted rapist.

Quite where the notion of delight fitted into this sleazy, tawdry, deeply unedifying tale was anybody’s guess, but Turner decided there was not a moment to lose in circling the wagons. “We can now all move on and focus on football.” 

They never learn, do they, this tone-deaf band of blazers? Cast your minds back to 2012, when Evans received the conviction that was quashed earlier this year. How do you suppose the Professional Footballers’ Association responded to the news? With horror, or at least a few deftly-chosen words of censure? No, it decided to include him in its League One ‘team of the season’. When Evans cropped up among the names read out at Grosvenor House that evening, the clapping continued unabated.