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Guidance over dropped rape claims

Prosecutors are to be given new guidance on when to pursue women who withdraw rape claims.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said recent court rulings had exposed failings in the system that had eroded public trust.

A framework will now be drawn up in a bid to ensure a different approach is taken in cases such as abuse victims being scared into dropping rape claims. Mr Starmer's personal approval will in future be required.

In one recent case, a 28-year-old mother was freed by the Court of Appeal from an eight-month jail term for "falsely retracting" rape allegations against her husband.

After the case Lord Judge said there should have been a "broad measure of compassion" for a woman who had been "victimised".

"This is an extreme case and we hope that it will be very exceptional for cases of this kind to be prosecuted to conviction in the Crown Court," he said.

Mr Starmer said: "There have been cases recently where ... I do not consider justice was done or was seen to be done. Apologies and legal explanations offer scant comfort to a victim and the public are rightly reluctant to place their trust in public authorities unwilling to accept their failings.

"We need to work on our approach in retraction cases. From now on, my approval for charging will be needed in these cases and we will monitor them closely. If the victim has decided to withdraw a rape allegation, we must explore the issues behind that, particularly if the victim is under pressure or frightened."

He said that at present around 110 retraction cases were considered for prosecution each year - 61 resulting in successful prosecutions last year and seven unsuccessful.

That compared with around 4,000 rape prosecutions brought annually, he said.


From Belfast Telegraph