Ministry of Justice adopts measures from Private Members Bill
Plaid Cymru MP and victims' rights activist, Liz Saville Roberts, has welcomed changes announced today by the UK Justice Secretary, that rape victims will no longer be forced to undergo live cross-examination live in court.
The MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd is her party’s spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs and presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill (Private Members’ Bill) in February to protect rape victims from being cross examined on their sexual history.
Commenting on the announcement from the Ministry of Justice, Plaid Cymru’s Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said:
“I’m pleased the UK Government has moved after the public pressure on this issue.
“Rape victims should not have to endure the humiliation of being cross-examined about their sexual history in court. If the changes to allow pre-recorded video evidence proposed by the Justice Secretary restrict such situations, they must be welcomed a positive step forward for victims. This promises to be an innovative use of technology to improve justice.
“The law endeavours to prevent sexual history with other men being used as evidence against rape complainants in all but exceptional cases. But it is sadly true that victims are being cross-examined on their sexual behavior and appearance far more often than is necessary for justice. It is clear that the law needs to be strengthened.
“I had a meeting with the Justice Secretary last week to discuss these changes and, while they do not quite go as far as I would like to see in terms of raising the bar and clarifying exactly what is permissible as evidence, the use of pre-recorded video will mean that the judge is directly responsible for what jurors hear in court in relation to the rape complainant's cross-examination.
'It is anticipated that this step will increase guilty pleas. It will also reduce the ordeal suffered by victims in court. I hope this leads to an increase in the number of rape victims prepared to seek redress for their suffering in the justice system.
“I welcome too that the Government will be updating guidance around the use of such evidence and I will be speaking with the Government to ensure that guidance is as robust as possible.
“Ultimately our goal must be to make the law fair for all - victims and defendants - and to make it possible for victims of rape to come forward confident that the justice system will not victimise them again.”