A Tory MEP has been condemned for insisting that some rape victims should share the blame for their ordeal.
Roger Helmer, a former spokesman for the party, made the comments as he leapt to the defence of Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
Writing on his blog, Mr Helmer said he could not understand the "fuss" over Mr Clarke's suggestion last week that there were less serious forms of rape.
The MEP described a "classic stranger rape" scenario, where a "masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and then leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies".
He contrasted that with a "date rape", where a woman "voluntarily goes to her boyfriend's apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naively expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says 'Stop!'. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on".
"In both cases an offence has been committed, and the perpetrators deserve to be convicted and punished. But whereas in the first case, I'd again be quite happy to hang the guy, I think that most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case. Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable."
"Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make," Mr Helmer wrote. "While in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend's mind."
Labour frontbencher Caroline Flint branded the comments "outrageous".
"To suggest that the victims of date rape can 'share responsibility' for the crime is outrageous. Roger Helmer should apologise immediately," she said. "With comments like this it is no wonder people think the Tories are out of touch on crime. Rape is not the victim's fault but the criminal's and they are the ones who should be punished."
A Conservative Party spokesman indicated there were no plans to discipline Mr Helmer, but added: "This is clearly not the view of the Conservative Party or the UK delegation in the European Parliament, and does not reflect the comments made by Ken Clarke."