Celeb sexual offence trials: The CPS can’t win

Crown CourtOh dear, it seems the police and the Crown Prosecution Service can’t win. First they were villified for not bringing a case against Jimmy Saville during his lifetime. Now they are being criticised because they did bring ultimately unsuccessful cases against Dave Lee Travis and Bill Roache. Meanwhile Operation Yewtree, the police enquiry set up in the wake of the posthumous Saville allegations, is being derided as a celebrity “witch hunt”.

The Saville, Roache and Lee Travis cases of course all depend on their own circumstances. I’m not going to comment on the merits of individual cases. What I do want to discuss is the basis on which decisions to prosecute and not prosecute are made, and in particular, the significant influence of the High Court over the way such decisions are made in sex cases.

Generally, decisions whether to commence criminal proceedings are made on the basis of at test laid down in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the “Evidential Stage test” or “the realistic prospect of conviction test”.

It provides that a case must only go ahead if prosecutors believe an “impartial and reasonable jury… acting in accordance with the law is more likely than not to convict the defendant…”.

In other words: the chances of a conviction have got to be 51% or better. But note the other very important element to the test: it requires prosecutors to assume the jury will be impartial and will act in accordance with the law. In cases involving well-loved celebrities and historic allegations from what might be described as a bygone age that might be a big ask.

In any event, that is the test prosecutors must apply. However, in relation to sex cases, since 2009 it has been given an additional “spin” by the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.  It arises out of the case of R(FB) v DPP.

“FB”, as it is known, was a very sad case. The complainant, FB, who has never been identified, was the victim of a serious attack: his ear was bitten off. He went to the police, identified his assailant and picked him out on an identity procedure.

However, FB had a history of mental illness. An expert said he suffered from hallucinations. It’s clear the CPS wrestled for some time with its conflicting obligations to disclose to the defendant’s legal team material which might assist him; to protect FB’s privacy, including his confidential medical records; and to put the defendant through a trial only where the case passed the Evidential Stage test. The deeply unfortunate result was that FB attended court on what was intended to be the first day of the trial only to be told the case had been dropped and a verdict of Not Guilty returned against the defendant.

FB instructed solicitors who went to the High Court. The court found that the CPS’s decision to drop the case had been “irrational” under their own guidance, and had breached the state’s duty to provide protection to persons suffering ill-treatment at the hands of others. FB was awarded £8,000 compensation. The Not Guilty verdict returned against the defendant remained, of course, unaffected.

The significance for the CPS’s future practice was twofold: first of all it established that  decisions not to pursue those suspected of criminal offences were susceptible to judicial review. Secondly, the High Court said that the CPS’s Evidential Stage test must be interpreted differently in certain types of cases. The relevant part of the judgment is worth quoting in full:

“49. There was also discussion whether in applying the “realistic prospect of conviction test” a prosecutor should adopt a “bookmaker’s approach” (as it was referred to in argument) or should imagine himself to be the fact finder and ask himself whether, on balance, the evidence was sufficient to merit a conviction taking into account what he knew about the defence case. In many cases it would make no difference, but in some it might. Mr Perry QC submitted that the latter was the correct approach…I agree with Mr Perry. 

50. There are some types of case where it is notorious that convictions are hard to obtain, even though the officer in the case and the crown prosecutor may believe that the complainant is truthful and reliable. So-called “date rape” cases are an obvious example. If the crown prosecutor were to apply a purely predictive approach based on past experience of similar cases (the bookmaker’s approach), he might well feel unable to conclude that a jury was more likely than not to convict the defendant. But for a crown prosecutor effectively to adopt a corroboration requirement in such cases, which Parliament has abolished, would be wrong. On the alternative “merits based” approach, the question whether the evidential test was satisfied would not depend on statistical guesswork.”

In other words: in certain types of cases, where prosecutors know from their experience that on the evidence before them the jury is likely to acquit the defendant, but where the prosecutor nevertheless believes the complainant, they should proceed with the case – notwithstanding that on the balance of probabilities they expect that the jury will ultimately find the defendant Not Guilty.

The High Court having authoritatively interpreted the Evidential Stage test in this way the CPS has had no choice but to incorporate it into their official guidelines in dealing with sex cases.

It’s worth comparing the words of the High Court in FB with the note sent to the trial judge by the jury in the Dave Lee Travis case after two days of deliberations, and before returning Not Guilty verdicts on 12 out of 14 counts:

‘…[the prosecutor], in summing up, said if we believe that the complainant was telling the truth, then we must find the defendant guilty. Can you give us any guidance on how that should be weighed with the lack of supporting evidence and the passage of time so we are sure beyond reasonable doubt?’

It seems to me therefore that the Dave Lee Travis jury was troubled by precisely the same doubts – i.e. lack of corroborating evidence – that the High Court said prosecutors should ignore when deciding what cases to bring.

Personally I’m not sure that the gloss put on the Evidential Stage test by the High Court in FB is correct or helpful. My worry is that it may lead to the running of weak cases when allegations of sexual misconduct are concerned. The High Court described the alternative as the “bookmakers approach”. If that means, as well as can be done, a cool and objective estimation of whether the chances of success are 51% or above, and if not, dropping the case; perhaps that is not such a bad thing. Let me explain why:

First of all it seems anomalous to have one test for whether to charge defendants in the general run of cases, and what amounts at least to a “different interpretation” of the test for sex cases.

Secondly, with respect, I’d suggest that the High Court risked engaging in a little “statistical guesswork” itself when saying that convictions are hard to obtain in certain types of cases. Certainly no empirical evidence to this effect was referred to in the judgment. In my opinion, it is not that convictions are hard to obtain in certain types of cases, it is that convictions are hard to obain in cases where the evidence is essentially one person’s word against another – and sex cases are more likely that others to fall into that category. But they are not the only kind of case where this problem applies: FB itself wasn’t a sex case, but one of wounding with intent, the kind of case that is a staple of CPS work. It’s hard therefore to see why the problem of the evidence being one person’s word against another should be treated differently depending on the nature of the allegation.

A point made by the High Court was that prosecutors should not adopt what was described as “a corroboration requirement which Parliament has abolished”. I’m not quite sure to what this was intended to refer. There was an old rule requiring corroboration, but it applied to a very narrow category of cases, not including rape or indecent assault.

The wider corroboration rules, which is what I believe the High Court had in mind, did not concern whether cases should be brought or not, but simply required judges to warn juries in cases where there was no corroboration. They were abolished in 1995.

My point, therefore, is that adopting a “probability-based” interpretation of the Evidential Stage test would not be to restore a corroboration requirement as abolished by Parliament, because, in relation to rape and indecent assault certainly, there never was such a corroboration requirement in the first place.

Rape and other sexual offences are horrible crimes that can damage people for life. Having read the heart-rending accounts of many complainants in such cases I don’t need anyone to convice me of that. I can also speak with some authority on the subject of how difficult it can be to make a decision to prosecute or not prosecute a case. It is very tempting, when reading moving accounts from complainants, to feel that not to take on their case would be a betrayal of them. It’s very tempting to think “Well, we’ll let it run and see what happens”. That is why the strictures of the Evidential Stage test are so important: it really does no-one any favours to build up a victim’s hopes, to put them through months of anxiety about giving evidence, to oblige them to relive their experiences in the witness box, where there is not even a 50/50 chance of a conviction – whatever the type of case and the good intentions of the prosecutors.

The CPS works within the confines of our criminal justice system and part of that system is that juries are instructed in the firmest terms: unless you are sure the defendant is guilty you must acquit him. That is obviously what was concerning the jury in the Dave Lee Travis case.

I don’t know the details of the Bill Roache or Dave Lee Travis cases: whether they were apparently weak cases, strong cases or somewhere in between. Whatever the merits, they at least serve as an opportunity to consider the guidance given to prosecutors in such cases. In my opinion there is an argument that such guidance should be consistent with guidance in other cases: that everything must be done to build a case, to gather all available evidence, but once that has been done – if there is not a better than evens chance of achieving a conviction that case should not be run.

By David Allan, a barrister specialising in the criminal law.

Follow David on Twitter: @DavidAllanLegal

114 thoughts on “Celeb sexual offence trials: The CPS can’t win

  1. Katherine

    I do not think the High Court should have watered down the test. Putting Prosecutors in a position that they should prosecute a case where the evidence is very weak because they ‘ believe the complainant’ is not the basis of a fair trial system. It also makes it harder for them not to be influenced by media and political pressure.

  2. Grandma B

    Sorry, but I think you are missing the real point here. A few clapped out old entertainers are being wheeled out to make an attempt to satisfy public opinion that something is being done about the gang of child abusers running Britain. They are scapegoats. Have you seen one of the politicians involved in this abuse arrested and charged? And what about the many still serving police officers who covered up for them? And the way this historic child abuse fits into the current network of abuse of vulnerable people? For one example, please see: https://grandmabarbara.wordpress.com/2-updates/savile-grandma-b-the-link/

  3. angryharry

    “it requires prosecutors to assume the jury will be impartial and will act in accordance with the law.”

    How can juries be impartial when they are continually being swamped with deceitful propaganda concerning the false allegation rate – which is very high – and how can they trust a justice system whose officials claim that they have “recorded” (let’s say) 16,000 “rapes” during the past year when, in fact, they have done no such thing. (They have recorded 16,000 allegations, not 16,000 rapes.)

    Effectively, the Crown Prosecution Service are making false claims and trying to bamboozle the public into believing that sex-complainants rarely lie.

    This is nothing more than feminist-inspired, man-hating propaganda and political correctness designed to deceive – and also designed to get more men convicted on the uncorroborated say-so of women.

    Indeed, seasoned defence lawyers readily admit that in He said/She said situations numerous injustices occur because the juries are often swayed more by the performance of the barristers than by the evidence.

    A final point which is extremely important is to recognise that when officials working in the prosecution system itself start to treat people unjustly (in order, allegedly, to pursue their noble aims of protecting victims) then they have crossed a line and entered into a moral low ground.

    They repeatedly break the Golden Rule.

    And by doing this, they are presumably assuming themselves to be so lofty that they stand above one of the most important moral codes that humans have ever divised.

    They are Gods!

    And, as a result, the system, as it currently stands, both encourages and itself brings about thousands of circumstances every year wherein men have their lives ruined, or even terminated, by false accusations.

    These are victims too, but the prosecution system does not care for them. On the contrary, those who work for it not only try to hide these victims from public view, they actually tell the public (through their statistical shenanigans and tricks of language, as per above) that these innocent men are, most likely, guilty.

    How can you ever get an impartial jury under these circumstances?

    In short, they seem to think that it is OK to hurt thousands of innocent men every year.

    1. Moor Larkin

      Perhaps rather than Gods the “Human Rights” boosters are akin to the medieval Roman Church – and in the UK currently, they seem to have created their own Grand Inquisition, which as Monty Python foresaw, nobody expected..

  4. duncanheenan

    I agree with David Allan’s blog mostly, but would add two riders:

    1. As well as the evidential test, there is the Public Interest Test. I fail to see why the CPS decided it was in the Public Interest to set up these expensive and damaging trials of superannuated celebs, who pose no danger to the public (even if they were guilty of the ancient allegations), based on historical allegations. However good the evidence, I don’t think the cases really passed the Public Interest Test.

    2. I feel there is an argument for bringing some cases to court if the complainant is believed, but the chances of conviction are slim. This is because it is sometimes the case that the prospect of conviction is low because juries, and even judges, will not be able to understand the evidence, and the best example I can think of is fraud. It is notoriously difficult to get a conviction in a fraud case, as a good defence can simply confuse a jury (or even a judge at times) to the point where they don’t have the confidence to convict.
    The week after I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I sat on a jury in a simple book-keeping fraud case. After 3 days of painfully slow and meticulous evidence and half a day of summing up, the rest of the jury all looked blankly at me and asked ‘did she do it or not’? I said she did and there was no more discussion, as the others clearly hadn’t understood the evidence, and probably never would do without professional training. Had I not been on the jury, they would have let a guilty person go, as they were so confused and worried by the responsibility . Indeed, listening to the judge’s summing up, I wondered how much of the evidence really understood.

    1. Moor Larkin

      It’s one thing to decide if someone is guilty of a crime, but I assume it was clear that money had gone missing? The biggest problem it seem to me, about Historical Allegations is that the jury isn’t really deciding who did it, but rather if any crime occurred at all.

      If Keir Starmer continues to prevail then nobody accused of a historical sex offence can possibly be found not guilty, If a complainant is accepted as a “victim” and a victim MUST be believed then the the jury will simply be there to rubber-stamp the decision made by the legislature before the case was even heard. The law will have become nothing more than a Catch 22 gimmick.

    2. David Allan (@DavidAllanLegal)

      Thanks for the thoughtful and knowledgable comment Duncan. You’re right there is also a Public Interest test. All I’d say is that the question of whether it is in the public interest to prosecute these cases depends very much on their facts: I’d agree that a pat on the bottom 30 years ago does not sound like the basis of a sensible prosecution today, but I don’t know what the nature of the allegations were in those cases, whether it was something along those lines, or something much more serious. Often the people saying these cases are frivolous are the suspects or their representatives.

      On your wider point about juries – it was interesting to hear your thoughts. I agree that it is a real concern in our system how juries actually work and whether all the members do understand complex cases in order to discharge their duties as jurors properly. However, I’d have to question whether it is a good idea to combat this problem by bringing fraud cases even if the prosecutors don’t expect the jury to understand them – not least because they can be extremely expensive and time consuming cases to bring!

      If it is any re-assurance, I’ve never known of a fraud case dropped because prosecutors thought the jury “wouldn’t understand it”. Barristers tend to be fairly confident in their own abilities, including their ability to explain the very complex to jurors.

  5. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    A very interesting blog it explains the rationale in deciding which cases are sent to court. Personally I firmly believe these historical cases should be sent to court and a jury gets to decide. So what if there is a not guilty verdict that is the role of the jury to listen to the evidence and decide. If we were to follow that strange argument that resulted only in 100% guilty verdicts there is no point in a trial at all is there, just a determination of length of sentence jury not needed. There are seldom any witnesses in rape cases, that is why they are hard to prove, do we really want a situation where the victim has to be harmed in order for a case to come to court or to pray there are other victims and the rapist has followed the same MO otherwise forget it. I seldom agree with the decision of juries in rapes cases for reasons like Harbinder Khatkar who provides the most recent example, he was acquitted and then went on to rape/assault seven other women within weeks of his acquittal. Rapists should not be able to breathe easily and moreso the longer time has elapsed, instead they need to feel the relentlessly hot breath of the law breathing down their necks doggedly bringing them to justice.

    1. duncanheenan

      At what stage after people have consensual sex, can they relax and know that they are not going to be accused of rape or sexual assault, and convicted simply because someone made an allegation so long ago there can be no evidence?
      Can anyone ever relax if false accusations can end up in Court, even when there is no evidence and it is decades later, during which no one has complained?

  6. Andrew

    L-E-S: You may like to know that you have convinced me that there should not be a formal limitation period in serious crime; but I remain of the view that courts should be more willing to find abuse of process where the passage of time makes it unreasonably difficult to defend. The defendant might, for example, be able to show why the complainant might have a grudge by reference to facts of which all trace has long gone.

    Khatkar was a one-off; stupid enough to commit further rapes with a similar MO and so very soon after acquittal. Frankly, to turn the usual phrase to which you would rightly object on its head, he was asking for it. It’s a fact that in any normal case (insofar as such a thing is possible in so deviant an activity as rape – but you know what I mean) acquittal is the end of the road. There is not normally going to be convincing new evidence.

    I wish Khatkar had decided not to run the risk again and not committed further crimes, which would have left a rapist at large and seven women unharmed!

  7. polruan

    I’m with both L-E-S and Andrew on not having any statute of limitation on serious crimes, and wish there were a better way of showing what happened in cases where rape, (sexual) violence or other acts of intimate abuse are alleged to have taken place out of sight of others. But how else would you want to see guilt determined, L-E-S, other than by a jury (or bench, for non-indictable offences)?

  8. angryharry

    “I’m with both L-E-S and Andrew on not having any statute of limitation on serious crimes, and wish there were a better way of showing what happened in cases where rape, (sexual) violence or other acts of intimate abuse …”

    ‘Other acts of intimate abuse?’ like domestic violence, you mean.

    So in, for example, a divorce situation, you are happy with the idea that prospective ex-wives or ex-husbands can go to the police and claim something like, “He slapped me 14 years ago. I now want him charged with domestic violence.”

    Pardon me for being rude, but people’s psychology and the social fabric of our society would be – and is being – seriously damaged by this nonsense and hysteria.

    Furthermore, you are actually damaging victims by supporting mechanisms that encourage them to dwell on past hurts …

  9. angryharry

    The message from the celebrity witch hunts is that men should avoid having anything to do with women, lest they pay a heavy price sometime in the future – even in decades to come.

    How much more damaging to everyone and to our society can you get?

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      I think I can speak for all women everywhere that this proposal causes us little or no concern, in fact we’d actively encourage men in this endeavour.

      1. Andrew

        L-E-S: Logical but not reasonable. Women the whole world over still seem to want to have a lot do with men and it’s a two-way process. It keeps the world peopled, among other possible (dis)advantages!

        So no, you don’t speak for all women everywhere.

        If you mean that those of my gender who treat yours with disrespect or violence should learn better or failing that be taught better, we won’t disagree. Sometimes you remind me of my sister with whom I often disagree and argue but who, in the end, is my sister and my kin. I just hope you aren’t my sister but I don’t think she’s into blogging!

        Yours in siblinghood.

  10. polruan

    Dear me, you really are very angry indeed, Harry, aren’t you?

    Glad though I am that you recognise that domestic violence can and indeed quite often does involve serious crime, I am disturbed that your anger should blind you to what I actually wrote, which had two limbs, the first agreeing with L-E-S & A (what a fine pair they make) on not time barring prosecutions for serious crimes, and the second bemoaning the difficulty of establishing guilt when the alleged offences occur with no-one else present; and in that second part of my comment, I covered the whole gamut of seriousness, from allegations of indictable crimes, such as rape, to those that can be dealt with in the magistrates’ courts by a lay bench or a DJ(MC). However serious, harmful and long-lasting the effects of such cases of alleged intimate abuse as are able to be dealt with in the magistrates’ courts may be, they were clearly not what I had in mind when I wrote about “serious crimes” in the context of the question of whether or not a time bar should apply.

    But someone who knows what went on between two people in the intimacy of their home 14 years ago (say) may well realise with hindsight that such conduct could well have attracted – even then – rather more than a mild reprimand from the duty constable, and a reminder not to disturb the neighbours if the true facts had come out…

    1. angryharry


      1. Perhaps I misunderstood your notion of “serious” crimes; which these days seems to mean any alleged crimes that alleged victims are prepared to make a fuss about.

      2. Most domestic violence calls made to the police are not from victims but from those wishing to use the state to aggress against their partners on their behalf; in other words, they are perpetrating acts of domestic violence by calling the police.


      3. It is not in the public interest to poison everyone’s relationships by making them (men mostly) forever fearful of false allegations in the distant future.

      Though, of course, it is always in the interests of lawyers and governments to poison people’s relationships …


  11. angryharry


    1. Perhaps I misunderstood your notion of “serious” crimes; which these days seems to mean any alleged crimes that alleged victims are prepared to make a fuss about.

    2. Most domestic violence calls made to the police are not from victims but from those wishing to use the state to aggress against their partners on their behalf; in other words, they are perpetrating acts of domestic violence by calling the police.

    3. It is not in the public interest to poison everyone’s relationships by making them (men mostly) forever fearful of false allegations in the distant future.

    Though, of course, it is always in the interests of lawyers and governments to poison people’s relationships.

  12. polruan

    @angryharry Do you have any evidence at all to back up the assertion you make in your second point?

    1. angryharry


      Mountains of evidence, but not from politically-corrected academics.

      But consider this: Even shouting can now be categorised by the justice system as domestic violence.

      Name calling, undermining, demeaning, threatening to withhold money are all examples of domestic violence these days.

      And, presumably, threatening to rape your partner would be a very, very serious act of domestic violence indeed.

      And yet, for example, threatening a father with words such as “You’ll never see your children again, ” or “I’ll kick you out of the house,” do not count as domestic violence.

      Nor does thwarting child access count as domestic violence.

      And yet both of these things would be considered by just about all parents to be much worse than rape!

      In other words, some of the most heinous acts of abuse committed by women against men – acts that are worse than rape – do not count as domestic violence, whereas far more trivial acts committed by men do.

      My point being that the whole thing is a game – mostly played out for political reasons and for career enhancement.

  13. angryharry

    One major consequence of these celebrity witch hunts and the persecution of men for alleged ‘historic crimes of abuse’ is that men will increasingly avoid getting too close to women, or children, lest they end up having to pay an extremely heavy price in the future – even in decades to come.

    This is already happening and the increase is accelerating.

    As such, these witch hunts are gradually poisoning all our social and intimate relationships and they are breaking down our social cohesiveness – something that is already causing misery to millions of people.

    As for ‘misogyny’, expect it to skyrocket; as men gradually wake up to what is being done to them; e.g. as per my previous posts.

    And then think about vicious circles, as one response brings about a counter-response.

    In short, these witch hunts are not in the public interest, in my view. They are, however, in the interests of ‘government’.

  14. Andrew

    Angryharry: thwarting contact and threatening to exclude the father from the child’s life are not worse than rape; only murder is worse than rape. I will leave you to the tender mercies of L-E-S on that point – and may the Lord have mercy on your soul because she won’t.

    It is certainly the case that many DV complainants regret making the complaint in the cold light of day. In the mags’ court where I sit the retiring room overlooks the carpark and we quite often see them after the conviction and non-custodial sentence leaving hand-in-hand and getting in the same car, happy to be together again after the separation caused by bail conditions (where he did not ignore them and she did not object!) – but that does not mean that the assault did not happen when the call was made.

    CPS usually charge common assault even where ABH fits the offence better, because of course CA is not indictable and there is no risk of the defendant taking it to the Crown Court – which means that there is a six-month limit. In practice I have never seen DV charges not brought almost at once after the event. Any woman or indeed man who thinks the police and the CPS will charge for a slap fourteen years later as you seem to suggest is living in cloud-cuckoo-land.

    1. duncanheenan

      Andrew said “… Any woman or indeed man who thinks the police and the CPS will charge for a slap fourteen years later as you seem to suggest is living in cloud-cuckoo-land.”
      Welcome to cloud-cuckoo-land, Andrew. The police and CPS charged DTL with a bit of bottom fondling about 40 years on. And (according to the Court) he either didn’t do it, or it wasn’t a crime! I’d say a slap is worse than a playful fondle, so here in cloud-cuckoo-land the police and CPS would appear quite capable of charging such a thing. After all, wasn’t it the police & CPS who charged a student with ‘disorderly behaviour’ for asking a policeman if his horse was gay?

      1. Andrew

        Bottom-fondling is a serious sexual assault – not, I would have to agree, the most serious – where a slap is usually charged as common assault – time-limit six months. You point me at a case where a slap has been charged as ABH fourteen years on and we can both apply for our Cloud-Cuckooli passports.

        Quite agree about the student, bloody silly, but again it was at the time, not years later.

  15. Michael

    @angryharry wrote:
    “And yet, for example, threatening a father with words such as “You’ll never see your children again, ” or “I’ll kick you out of the house,” do not count as domestic violence.

    Nor does thwarting child access count as domestic violence.

    And yet both of these things would be considered by just about all parents to be much worse than rape!”

    Telling the parent of a child that s / he may not see their child again if they continue to abuse the child and / or the other parent may in some circumstances be but a simple statement of fact, and certainly not something this parent would consider as in any way approaching a crime, let alone one which “just about all parents” would consider to be “much worse than rape”.

    Indeed, such a categorisation strikes me as rather chilling. A family court would probably be rather disturbed by such attitudes.

    1. Kate Caveat

      I would think that a family court might well be extremely disturbed that a father should categorise standing up to abuse as a “crime” “worse than rape”.

  16. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    It’s like this. If you are the sort of man who believes rape only takes place when a stranger(s) attacks a lone woman (or man) forcing them to have sex and injures them at the same time. Or that drugging a woman (or man) and having sex with them without their consent is rape and that’s the only thing that is.

    If you think it is okay to have sex with a child or that you think it’s okay because the child “look older”

    If you believe consensual sex is coercing your partner into sex when you know they don’t want to, if that having sex where the woman (or man) has not consented but without violence is okay and not rape, or having sex with someone who initially consented and refusing to stop if they tell you to stop, or they say no, or when they indicate in any other myriads ways that they no longer wish to continue but you wilfully chose to ignore this pretending instead that they agreed and that’s the end of it.

    If you think it is okay to sexually assault someone, as happens on public transport in London, day in day out and that’s okay because the abuser can pretend (to himself) that he’s rubbing himself against you or touching you up because the tube is crowded rather than that he is doing it deliberately.

    He said/she said are the sentiments of the rapist. Rape/sexual assault without, witnesses, is not an even stevens situation (heads you win/tails I do) and no amount of trying to portary it that way will make it so. Trivialising rape or sexual assault because it happens in the past and therefore cannot be proved is not about justice it is about rape support.

    If you are one of the men who thinks like then, yes, keep away from women and if you behave like any of the above or worse you deserve to sweat for every single last day of your life.

    I’m happy that the women of the world will agree with me on this point. As for what men think….

  17. polruan

    @L-E-S On this issue at least I believe you do your fellow women a disservice by seeming to ignore the fact that your views on this are shared by many men (and indeed have been even in this thread). Any attempt to seek to divide the sexes over matters as fundamental as this seems to carry a real risk of perpetuating the myths and more that still surround such crimes.

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      Polruan I hear what you’re saying and I do believe many men genuinely do believe that they feel the same as women on this point however when I drill down into conversations with men who are genuinely outraged by rape they start to caveat with:

      Why did she go back to the hotel with him (think Mike Tyson case as one example)
      Why was she wearing a short skirt
      She was foolish being out that late a night
      She’d had too much to drink therefore she was not in control
      She shouldn’t have agreed to have sex with a stranger

      As though that makes rape/sexual assault okay. Most men (and some women too) do think there are times when rape could possibly be excused or at least while they wouldn’t have done so themself they can empathise with why anothe rman might have done so. Hand on heart can you honestly tell me I’m wrong.

      1. polruan

        @L-E-S Many years ago I had to sign a “life certificate” issued by the British Consulate in Paris. It began “I, Xxxx Yyyy, hereby declare and affirm that I do truly believe that I am alive.” It actually made me wonder whether I really was on the same planet. As for what I believe I believe and what other men might believe, I would simply invite you to consider whether your sweeping generalisations and frequent denunciations of the male of the species really do anything to help change the sort of pernicious myths about rape that I referred to in an earlier post. If we want to change the sort of attitudes that you rightly condemn, which are indeed undoubtedly more prevalent amongst men than women (but I think it’s important to recognise too, as you have done, that even some women hold such views, which shows how deeply engrained they are, and what a way we have to go to counter them; I still recall with a shudder the information imparted during a judicial training event on domestic violence about the startling percentage of teenage girls who believed that it was acceptable for their boyfriends to resort to violence when they refused them sex), then we need to do much more to convince men that rape cannot be excused. Telling us men that we’re all rape apologists may be one way of getting each of us to take a closer look inside at what we really do believe, but I am not convinced that it’s the most productive way of bringing about the fundamental shift in attitudes you (and I would invite you to believe, I too) would wish to see.

  18. Andrew

    L-E-S I agree with all you say at 4.37 and 3.42 except this. I think it is possible for a man to be in error about the age of a fifteener who claims to be older and goes into a club with him where the sign on the door says 18.

    I have not since adolescence made the sort of excuses about short skirts and the like which you dismiss with scorn. If that means that I don’t conform to your stereotype of a man I can’t help that!

  19. Liberte, Egalite,

    It is societal attitude towards women as laid down by men which allows rapists to walk free from court time and again. I challenge that full in the face and it is uncomfortable for men when challenged about sexism, about misogyny from which they all benefit regardless of whether they are a participant. Men want their egos massaged they want me to preface my condemnation with “some” before the word men. I reject this. One I will not appease men that’s why we are where we are now we dare not convict men of rape because normal don’t rape, when the truth is yes they do. Two saying men is not the same as saying all men but you guys don’t hear that back to wanting to be appeased again. Finally if you are not like that what do you care it’s water off a ducks back. One more thing my point earlier “hand on heart” went unanswered why is that?

  20. Andrew

    I don’t care that you think I am a rapist because I am male, it’s water off a duck’s back as you say, but I think it’s sad for you that you seem to loathe half your own species.

    If a rapist walks free it is because a jury – invariably of both genders – are not sure; and if they are not sure they must acquit. The same is true of a burglar or a murderer.

    My hand is on my heart (figuratively; I can’t type one-handed) when I say that I don’t excuse rape – ever – and I don’t empathise with rapists – ever. But you won’t believe me, and that’s your problem not mine.

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      Why is hating men levelled as an accusation – always. It makes more sense for a woman to hate them than not to. I speak the truth to power that’s all. It’s the truth that men despise and try to silence.

      1. Kate Caveat

        Might it be that hating all men seems to be “levelled as an accusation” in the same way that you appear to wield misogyny as a stick with which to beat down each and every attempt by men to build bridges of understanding towards your point of view? Such an ‘approach’ (if that’s not a contradiction in terms!) could even perversely contribute to reinforcing and perpetuating the very myths that you rightly and consistently denounce. “Speaking truth to power” carries a reciprocal duty (I would opine) of acknowledging uncomfortable truths (such as those Andrew – annoyingly – seems so adept at finding and formulating!).

  21. polruan

    L-E-S You’re right to seek a straight answer to your question. I thought I had given it above, when I stated, without equivocation, that “rape cannot be excused.” For the avoidance of doubt, however, I reiterate that very firmly and – without in any way seeking appeasement or to have my ego massaged – affirm that, whilst I accept that I have indubitably benefited from misogyny and do indeed feel uncomfortable when challenged about sexism, I do not empathise with rapists (and I truly believe that Andrew does not either).

    However, you have not answered my question above either (“But how else would you want to see guilt determined, L-E-S, other than by a jury?”), any more indeed than you have addressed the challenge thrown down by Andrew regarding the burden of criminal proof. This is where your shoe seems to pinch.

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      How else would I have guilt determined in rape cases? Firstly, what’s wrong with the rape victim being allowed her (or his) own legal team in these cases, start with putting the accused through the same sort of cross examination that the complainant has to go through. And where there is more than one complainant the rapist is cross examined by counsel for each complaintant such as happens now to the victim when there was more than rapist involved. The court should be allowed to consider (if it doesn’t already) whether or not there have been previous complaints of this nature, whether or not they came to court, about this person, what were the circumstances of that case (any similarities) plus any other history of anti social behaviour, including football hooliganism, which gives clues to his character.

      I would remove the defence that the rapist reasonably believed the victim to be consenting, that’s gone.

      Finally what’s wrong with a jury declaring, while not guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, we find you guilty on balance of probabilities. Whether or not a criminal sanction is applied for guilty on balance of probabilities I’ll leave to the legal boffins but maybe a civil penalty some acknowledgement that while we might not be able to prove to a criminal standard that you raped the complaint we, the jury, believe you did.

      1. duncanheenan

        These proposals amount to a formula for revenge and persecution, not justice.
        Previous unsubstantiated complaints must be left out of a trial, or else it opens the door for guilt by vote. Similarly, taking someone’s general character in to account leads a jury to decide whether someone was likely to commit any rape, not whether they actually did commit the rape they are charged with.
        It is a recipe for witch hunts, and will have police arresting people for ‘looking nasty’.

      2. Kate Caveat

        L-E-S: I have a fair degree of sympathy with some of these ideas (and indeed, certain of them are already in the prosecution’s armoury). 

        In addition, it is perhaps worth recalling that courts can already impose restraining orders on defendants who have just been acquitted of a charge of domestic assault against a partner, if they feel that this is necessary to afford protection or to preserve the peace. 

        This is a step that many lawyers and civil rights campaigners (and indeed members of the judiciary too, though they cannot campaign) view with concern, but one the courts have nevertheless shown themselves willing to use on occasion when they consider the necessary conditions are made out. 

        I imagine there would be very much more opposition to the idea of imposing an actual penalty (rather than a preventive order) on the basis of what would (if I have understood your idea correctly) be tantamount to a “not proven” verdict, and it is certainly not a route I would advocate going down. 

  22. Andrew

    “Benefitted from misogyny”? Well: I suppose I may have got a job because I am male, but I would not know and it’s not my fault if I did. Similarly if I have got a job because I am white. And that applies to you too if you are white, which of course I don’t know.

    I don’t accuse you of hating men; if you do it’s your privilege. I state as a fact that you seem to, and you do, some of the time at least.

    Since I am not a rapist, have never committed rape, never even contemplated it, and am male, it follows that “all men are rapists” is not the truth: therefore you do not speak truth to power. And it’s no good saying that “men” does not imply “all men”: it does. “Birds have a backbone” implies that all birds have a backbone, which they do, but not that all vertebrates are birds, which many are not – including you and me. “Rapists are men” means “all rapists” and is (almost; there are a few strange exceptions) true, but not the converse.

    Goodnight, all.

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      That men rape can be proved. All men are not rapists cannot be proved (or disproved either). Likewise with only some men rape. Perhaps it should be only some men get caught or not all men get away with rape (just most). I don’t know how to dress this up in fancy impressive language but my argument is valid your analogy does not work and your argument is invalid

  23. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Kate why would you not agree with a verdict of guilty on the balance of probabilities? It gives a nod to we believe you raped but it cannot be proved beyond all reasonable doubt. That would dampen the rapey swaggering triumphalism on the steps of the court.

    1. Andrew

      Would balance of probabilities do on murder which is (a) even worse and (b) even harder to prove, there being no victim?

      1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

        With murder we usually have the body or a person whose remains can’t be found and neither can they. With rape or sexual offences there is not always any evidence like that or perhaps a witness. I believe therefore murder or manslaughter is easier to establish.

  24. Andrew

    I can’t prove that I’ve never committed a rape. You can’t prove that you’ve never committed a murder. None of us can prove a negative. If you seriously believe that all of my gender are rapists but some haven’t got caught yet I don’t think that anything that any of us, male or female, can say will convince you otherwise.

    But do tell me: at what age do we become rapists?

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      I don’t get what compels men to rape or assault, it is beyond me. What they experience during it that’s satisfies some need remains a mystery therefore at what age do they start to, presumably by finding a justification for it in their headspace, is something I am unable to answer.

      1. Andrew

        Neither do I understand what motivates men to commit rape. It can’t be any sexual pleasure.

        But whatever it is: No male is a rapist until he has committed – or attempted – rape. There msut be some point if all men are rapists at whch the small boy becomes the rapist even if he has not done it.

        As for murder/mansalughter, sure, there is a body. What we don’t and can’t knwo is how many murders are assumed to be natural deathss and never investigated.

  25. Kate Caveat

    L-E-S You asked a direct question, and I’ll answer it. Even suggesting that the balance of probabilities should suffice to convict someone of rape debases the gravity of the offence of rape itself, reducing it to a matter of a civil difference of opinion rather than one of the very worst things one human being can do to another, short of killing them.

    Pursuing this as an objective could, and in my view, would in all likelihood carry a significant risk of further reducing the number of successful criminal prosecutions, as juries would resile from the onerous task of determining whether they were sure that the woman (or occasional man) in question had actually been raped on the evidence presented, and seek refuge in a “flip of the coin” cop-out, which would – I fear – almost inevitably highlight their doubts about what actually happened, and lead to more – not fewer – acquittals, rather than focusing their minds on the evidence they’ve heard and helping them decide why they prefer to believe one version rather than another to the point that they are as sure as they can be that the person was (or was not) raped.

    Alison Saunders (the new DPP) today reminds us that it is not for the CPS to determine guilt, and that failure to secure a conviction does not mean that it is wrong to bring to court such cases as those the fascinating analysis in this guest post examines so thoughtfully and effectively (even if David does irritatingly spell Savile with two ‘l’s!).

    She points to the successful convictions obtained in sex abuse cases involving teachers dating back sometimes as far as 50 years, but reminds us – with painful but admirable lucidity – that “so long as our criminal justice system is working, we will continue to see acquittals in these types of cases. But we are also seeing convictions.”

    She warns of a pernicious “new mythology” (to replace that of the “short skirt”) in which complainants face being castigated as “money grabbers” seeking compensation payouts, a view that could well be reinforced by shifting rape into the civil arena, where the only penalty could be a financial one.

    Rape should continue to be judged in the criminal courts by the criminal standard of proof as the very worst form of sexual assault.

    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      I read Alison Saunders article in the Times and of course it should have been uplifting however I also listened to the recording erroneously left by two police officers on the phone of a victim who had made a complaint of domestic abuse. They referred to her as a bitch and one of the other “sl” words used to dehumanise women. This is misogyny in action you suggest I use it as a stick to beat men with when in fact the reverse is true. They use it to beat us with. It is why rape complainants aren’t believed. Why rapists walk and the victim is referred to as a liar, vengeful, and demands for her to be sued for perjury. No matter how conscientious the DPP is it is men who need to change or little else will.

      1. duncanheenan

        As well as believing all men are bad, you seem to believe that all women are good. Neither is true. Individuals have to be judged on their individual merits, regardless of sex.
        You seem also to assume all sex is rape, and that all women hate sax as much as you appear to. That is not true either, however much you may wish it.

  26. Kate Caveat

    L-E-S wrote: “[I]t is men who need to change or little else will.” I agree. I also agree about the hideous conversation between police officers apparently caught on a victim’s phone. That is misogyny. Saying absolutely everything men do is driven by misogyny diminishes the horror of such behaviour, however, as it puts it all on a par.

    P.S. I can’t help but wish you could change your weapon of choice from a bludgeon to a rapier, L-E-S. It would be so much more effective.

  27. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Yes confirmed Duncan I’d hate sex very much (not while there’s still dogs in the street) if it involved you. Someone pass me the mind bleach pronto get that image out of my head in case I start seizing.

      1. duncanheenan

        Maybe targeted, but wrongly. I have never raped anyone, nor ever wanted to.
        ‘Sisterhood’ simply has it in for me because I don’t support her views and have said so in plain language. Her previous abusive rants are why she got thrown off this group and had to re-appear under another name.

  28. sisterhooduk

    Duncan – well that would be wrong and it is a downright lie, scroll back to the earliest stories from last year about the Naked Rambler you will see that Duncan began to abuse me because I had an opinion that differed from his and that would never do for a woman. He didn’t like that. And just like all abusive men they are bullies, he tries to silence me but he can’t, every now and again he plays the victim card, typical of men who abuse it’s never their fault. I changed my name to prove my point that he would seek me out to bully me even with a different profile name and I bided my time. I knew he’d bite. In essence a typically abusive man who when they can’t lash out will resort to verbal bullying EXCEPT he’s met his match. And remember Duncan NOT WHILE THERE’S DOGS IN THE STREET. Seriously PMSL. Yours in Sisterhood

    1. duncanheenan

      If anyone is interested (which I doubt), they can indeed look back and find a number of abusive comments and rants, all from ‘Sisterhood’ and mostly in response to my politely challenging her view that all men are rapists and that men’s bodies are universally loathed. She also objected to being identified as a troll, which she has proved many times and continues to do.
      Far from ‘seeking her out’, it has been painfully obvious that she has been sock-puppeting ( a common troll technique), and she didn’t like being caught at that either.
      But hey ho, believe her if you wish. But base your opinions on what she says about other people, not what she says about herself. Both are nonsense.

      1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

        Oh god now listen to the abuser belly ache and blame his victim. You’ll note the point about my changing my name because I was “thrown off this group” which was Duncan’s deliberate abusers bare faced lie has swiftly been ignored and glossed over. Likewise he is going to attempt to divert away from his abusing me because I don’t agree with him on the naked rambler to anything which proves that he abused me first and doesn’t like it that he can’t subjugate me. And despite being abusive to me including threatening me (which was removed by the moderators when I made a formal complaint about it) he will try like all abusers to claim the reverse. I won’t be abused Duncan it’s called emancipation and it feels great.

      2. duncanheenan

        I have never threatened you. That, like most of your stuff is a self-serving lie.
        You just can’t stand to have anyone disagree with you, can you?

  29. sisterhooduk

    Duncan you’ve lied about me and you did it deliberately when you suggested that I had been “thrown out of this group” as Sisterhooduk and had be forced to create another name (Liberte, Egalite, Sororite) in order to get back on. There can be no reason for that other than malice and to be abusive. Now be big enough to apologise.

    The Mods removed your post where you discussed finding out about where I lived because I felt safe hiding behind my computer.

    I don’t care if anyone has a different opinion to me. Andrew and I frequently have different viewpoints and he does not conduct himself like you do and neither does Polruan.

    1. polruan

      I endorse that sentiment and have to say that I rather enjoy the sparring between L-E-S and Andrew, which manages to be perfectly pleasant (of the sibling variety, as Andrew rightly observed the other day!). I am uncomfortable with the personalisation of Duncan’s comments and secretly cheered L-E-S’s rather sharp rejoinder as being pretty well merited. I would miss L-E-S’s take on matters and the responses she elicits from Andrew in particular, as between them they add an extra dimension to the debate.

      1. duncanheenan

        As you are late in to correspondence with ‘Sisterhood’ you will be unaware of her abusive, foul mouthed rants at me, including such ‘rapier like’ pieces of intellect as “Fuck off Duncan, you tiny pricked wanker”. There are many other examples but one will suffice.
        You will find no such stuff from me. True, I have described her as an anonymous internet troll, but I think she has proven that to be a fair description. She is of course attempting to build her ‘constituency’ now, and you are welcome to join it if you wish, but listen to what she is actually saying and advocating, not just that she wants to be your friend.

    2. duncanheenand

      I have had no posts removed.
      Lies to cover lies – it’s what trolls do.
      I have said nothing which is not true, or I sincerely believe to be true.
      This is a pointless conversation, so I shan’t continue it.

  30. Andrew

    Sorry, Sisterhood, call me naive, call me ignorant, call me anything you like as long as you don’t call me late for lunch, but if it’s not something you don’t want to type and send out at length what does PMSL mean?


    1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

      The last bits are… p***** myself laughing fill in the blanks. I know I know yes I should and do know better.

      1. duncanheenan

        Why so coy all of a sudden using asterisks? Afraid you’ll get thrown out again for using foul language?
        Ever yours,
        T*** P****** W*****

  31. Andrew

    Thank you both, I should have known. I’ve led a sheltered life. But it’s never too late to learn.

    I disagree slightly with you, Polruan: when L-E-S gave Duncan the online kicking he deserved I was pleased and nothing secret about it!

  32. Andrew

    If that’s a quotation from someone I’d like to know, because either you or the person you are quoting is so, so right!

      1. duncanheenan

        So you will give Andrew what he asks for if he will bare (sic) with you! Sounds like you are inviting a naked encounter. Interesting, in view of your aversion to the male body.
        Well dear you’ve manipulated Andrew in to ignoring your abusive, foul mouthed rants and your accusations that he is a rapist, so well done. I hope you enjoy your bare encounter together.
        No doubt he will class your next hysterical outburst as ‘a good kicking’. Worrying language from someone claiming to be a Magistrate; a kicking good?
        Oh well, none of this matters. It’s just an anonymous troll shouting in the ether, and no one is cares, even if they do bother to read it.

    1. Andrew

      Yes, Duncan, I noticed the spelling error too, and smiled briefly to myself about it, but maybe, just maybe, you could accept that not everyone spells as well as everyone else and that in the context of online discussion it does not matter – and you might conclude that teasing anybody about it is not worthy of you.

      1. duncanheenan

        And what am I worthy of? A good kicking? (as you seem to classify a stream of foul mouthed, hysterical abuse?
        Your endorsement of a troll does you no credit either.

  33. sisterhooduk

    “This is a pointless conversation so I shan’t continue it” Lie

    “Her previous abusive rants are why she got thrown off this group and had to re-appear under another name.” – Bare Faced Lie

    “Here is the single defining characteristic of a manipulative person: They rarely if ever, admit or acknowledge that they are wrong. “

    And just like all abusive men they are bullies, he tries to silence me but he can’t, every now and again he plays the victim card, typical of men who abuse it’s never their fault. In essence a typically abusive man who when they can’t lash out will resort to verbal bullying

  34. sisterhooduk

    Characteristics of abusive men
    “Manipulativeness – A tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good, and portray the woman as crazy or abusive.”

  35. sisterhooduk

    Still no apology – “Here is the single defining characteristic of a manipulative person: They rarely if ever, admit or acknowledge that they are wrong. “

    Characteristics of abusive men “Manipulativeness – A tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good, and portray the woman as crazy or abusive.”

  36. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Day two and still no apology from. Duncan for telling a bare faced (bushy bearded) lie about me.

    “Here is the single defining characteristic of a manipulative person. They really if ever, admit or acknowledge that they are wrong”

    Plenty of abuse, victim blaming and smoke screening though the manipulative tactics of the abusive man.

    Chareteristics of abusive men “manipulativeness – a tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good and portray the woman as crazy or abusive”

  37. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Oh Duncan forgot to close his bracket LOOK EVERYONE at 07:21 am. The bracket was opened but never closed. I shall now go on, at length, about it in the style of Duncan except I’m too busy pmsl.

  38. Kate Caveat

    Duncan, L-E-S does appear to have got under your skin, and your posts increasingly seem to suggest that she has managed to prick you in a very sensitive spot. To then turn on Andrew and accuse him of unmagisterial conduct for saying that he thought you deserved the tongue-lashing you’d called down on yourself, a judgment which would probably seem to most passengers of a Clapham omnibus as a pretty reasonable, considered and and above all fair conclusion! (and suggest moreover that Polruan either had some peculiar ulterior motive for sucking up to our free-spirited sister or was simply naive) is a worrying escalation, and verges on another of those ‘p’ words that one is reluctant to bandy around.

    I do think you owe L-E-S an apology (and hope only that if you do find it within yourself to offer one, she will steel herself to accept it graciously!).

    Pax vobiscum

    1. duncanheenand

      And do you think ‘Sisterhood’ owes me an apology for her foul mouthed tirades, and various lies and accusations of rape etc.,?
      In your suggested spirit of reconciliation, perhaps you could draft an apology for each of us which you would find acceptable?

    2. duncanheenan

      Andrew did not refer to a ‘tongue lashing’ but to a ‘good kicking’. It is the use of such language which magistrates are known to use to decide cases, and therefore people’s futures. It seems to me that, rather than me turning in Andrew, it was he who turned on me.
      In fact I think he was probably motivated by my question arising from his admitted use of lose language in another post, where he appeared to condemn someone based purely on ‘Sisterhood’s assertions about an alleged incident. I asked if he had some other information about the alleged case, as otherwise it seemed to me to be uncharacteristically ‘unmagisterial’ use of language by Andrew, who had on several occasions assured readers in various threads of his authority in legal matters by quoting 40 years in the profession and being a magistrate. Andrew had to admit, with bad grace, his use of language was lax in that case, and rather than tell me to ‘ Fuck off you tiny pricked wanker’ and other schoolyard epithets himself, he used the opportunity to endorse ‘Sisterhood’s words in delivering her ‘good kicking’ (also known as trolling).
      My own occasional sarcasm towards ‘Sisterhood’ comes under the heading of Self Defence, which I believe is still a valid plea. And, though it is ancient history, she started it.

      1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

        “Her previous abusive rants are why she got thrown off this group and had to re-appear under another name.” – Bare Faced Lie

        “Here is the single defining characteristic of a manipulative person: They rarely if ever, admit or acknowledge that they are wrong. “

        And just like all abusive men they are bullies, he tries to silence me but he can’t, every now and again he plays the victim card, typical of men who abuse it’s never their fault. In essence a typically abusive man who when they can’t lash out will resort to verbal bullying

      2. sisterhooduk

        Plenty of abuse, victim blaming and smoke screening though the manipulative tactics of the abusive man.

        Chareteristics of abusive men “manipulativeness – a tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good and portray the woman as crazy or abusive”

      3. Kate Caveat

        @Duncan, Andrew actually wrote “I disagree slightly with you, Polruan: when L-E-S gave Duncan the online kicking he deserved I was pleased and nothing secret about it!” It was you who added the “good” (presumably to reinforce your point, & perhaps because you realised it was not only rather tendentious but pretty tenuous too. In court, such gratuitous glosses to evidence would undermine a witness’s credibility). It was, moreover, clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that Andrew was using the term figuratively.

        I described the put-down that L-E-S had delivered as a “tongue lashing”, not as a quote (and didn’t put it in quotation marks) but simply as a description which I felt better reflected the nature of the response than “kicking”, but it is true that we both used the language of conflict.

        And Andrew did have the good grace to acknowledge a (very rare on his part) linguistic lapse on an early occasion, whereas you seem determined to defend to the death (there we go, I’m slipping into the language of conflict again) your vicious attacks on Sisterhood, despite several people trying to rein you in.

        Compare and contrast your style of discourse with that adopted by Andrew, and I think – if you were entirely honest with yourself – you’d probably admit that he has the enviable knack of saying sometimes quite provocative things without ever actually overstepping the line into offence, and that he always manages to home in on the essence of the debate. I’d go further. The verbal jousting (oops, I’m at it again!) between L-E-S and Andrew is actually one of the highlights of the comments section of this blog.

        I’m not going to flinch away from saying that L-E-S does sometimes overstate her case, and thereby undermines from time to time her own persuasiveness, but it is rarely fatal to the validity of her stance, which is a lonely and courageous determination to root out hypocrisy and male preconceptions in any take on a given situation (and she is very astute at spotting double speak).

        Can we not all agree to step back from the brink? L-E-S is no troll. She is a committed advocate of a certain position (one with which I have much sympathy, and even if I don’t always follow her all the way, I back her motivation to the hilt – oh dear, I’ve done it again (are you going to report me for using an image associated with bladed instruments, Duncan? You’d have to report Polruan too; he referred to both a blunt instrument (a bludgeon) and a bladed article (a rapier)! I also admire her relentless quest to expose the sort of pernicious sexual stereotyping that sometimes seems so pervasive in the CJS’s handling of gender issues (and becomes immediately apparent in much of the commentary on cases). I’d like to see her focus her energies more effectively, as she has a little bit of a tendency to go off on too many tangents at once, but that may just be because my brain is slowing down and I don’t have the ability to grasp fleeting thoughts as they flash by in a dozen directions! But this blog would be the poorer without her contributions.

      4. duncanheenan

        Glad to see you agree with my call to ‘Sisterhood’ in an earlier thread to ‘walk the walk’ in actually campaigning against what she calls male violence, rather than just ‘talking the talk’ as an anonymous internet troll. In that guise she will never be taken seriously so at best her message is lost, and more likely it actually alienates people who might have been sympathetic. Maybe she’ll get the message from you, she surely doesn’t from me.
        As for the rest, I assume you’re putting me in detention, m’am?

      5. Kate Caveat

        Duncan, I have no idea to what extent SisterhoodUK “walks the walk” as well as “talks the talk”; I shouldn’t be at all surprised if she does both, ‘though there may be reasons why she can’t. But it changes nothing in my defence of her staunch determination to expose online attitudes that are redolent of sexism, any more than it explains why you feel that it in any way legitimises your highly personal targeting of her and her views. It does seem to me (‘though I haven’t made a full literary exegesis of your many and varied retorts and comments!), that – as she has said – you have a tendency to accuse her of hysteria, irrational and emotive reactions, etc. These are the classic triggers of gender stereotyping, and it behoves us all to seek to avoid such language as none of us can pretend that we are unaware of the connotations and insinuations with which it is charged.

        Moreover, to persist in doing so when L-E-S has so clearly expressed her distress at such characterisations is not only highly provocative but tends towards harassment , as it is conduct which the victim here has made you keenly aware she finds hurtful (and I do too). However much you may feel that she has treated you unfairly in response, it is impossible to ignore the fact that you have and continue to use her sex as a weapon (and to be fair, she has retorted in kind).

        I’m not sure where your reference to me as ma’am or m’am comes from. It’d help if I knew how you pronounced it! Pronounced ‘mam’ as in ‘jam’, it’s the proper term of ongoing address for HM The Queen. I doubt this was it (and nor am I a relative!). It could be a dialectal term for ‘mum’, but that would be a little patronising. It’s commonly used in the services when addressing women officers; I should be very surprised if that was how you perceive me. Some advocates use it to address a woman bench chairman, but I’ve given no indication I’m that way inclined. And lastly, perhaps more plausibly in conjunction to the allusion to detention, it’s a term apparently used in minor public schools to refer to women teachers of beyond child-bearing age (who may well issue detention – though I’d suggest you write out the first chapter of the new Women’s Aid report: probably more instructive than the Georgics David Cameron was given to write after his misdemeanours at college) , especially if you were making assumptions about my age!

        It might perhaps be helpful if you could stop and ask yourself why Andrew (himself no stranger to the expression of forceful views), Polruan (a pretty even-handed seeming individual) and I have each come out in Sisterhood’s defence and said, in our various ways, that we feel you have treated her unfairly. Whatever else she is, she’s no troll, and she has clearly been hurt by your comments and made that clear. It worries me that you seem to want to continue to pour salt on the wound. Were you able (as in a Restorative Justice session) to show that you have tried to see things from another viewpoint (best of all hers, but that of others would be a worthwhile start), that might be enough to lance this boil. I do hope so.

      6. duncanheenan

        Thank you for yet another intervention.
        My use Ma’m, was an allusion to your headmistress like assumption that you have the right to give a dressing down in a matter which is not your concern. If you wish to intervene, (and thereby escalate and prolong this pointless slanging match) perhaps you’d like to inject a little even handedness by going back over the many threads where Sisterhood and I have conversed, and you will see it was she who first ‘played the man and not the ball’, and started to make highly personal comments about me. I an harassed, alarmed and distressed at her personal attacks on me and her foul mouthed vitriol. And I believe I am right in describing her as an anonymous troll. You condemn me for misogyny (which is untrue), and yet ignore her obvious and oft-expressed misandry. Can you quote anything serious I have written which is genuinely misogynistic? I have certainly been sarcastic (as has she), in drawing attention to her traits which are exactly the sort of thing which do lead some men to not take women seriously, but the lesion appears to have missed its target. But that is not misogyny, it is being sexually blind and treating her as I would a man who is saying outrageous things. If she (and you) want women to be treated with kid gloves whilst wearing steel toe-capped boots to deliver a kicking, you have come to the wrong place. I believe in sex equality, not feminist dominance (or make dominance), but that requires judgments to be made on individuals as individuals regardless of sex, which is what I am doing in Sisterhood’s case. If she chooses to play the victim and complain to anyone daft enough to listen, I can only hope you are happy together. With power comes responsibility – or it should do.
        But as I have said before, none of this matters, and almost no one is interested.

      1. sisterhooduk

        Duncan Heenan is a liar. He lied on this site about me when he declared that I had been thrown off of this site (as sisterhooduk (close bracket) and had had to create another profile in a different name consequently. He lied about me deliberately to be malicious and to be abusive and he steadfastly refuses to apologise for his lie which is published on here for everyone to see.

        As stated it is day three of Duncan’s lie and still no apology.

  39. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Furthermore there was a post aimed at me by Duncan Heenan by the moderators who agreed, following my formal complaint, that it could be deemed to be threatening. It was a post where he appeared to suggest that he would attempt to find out where I lived.

    1. duncanheenan

      I recall on one occasion saying that a ‘troll’s’ feeling of security from presumed anonymity was illusory, because they could be easily traced if the need arose. I know this to be true, because the last time I ‘seriously’ took on a troll it ended with the police tracing him, seizing his computer and him subsequently being convicted of numerous offences involving illegal pornography. Doubtless you will query that, so here’s the link;http://www.herts.police.uk/hertfordshire_constabulary/latest_news/news_articles/100112_-_ccj341.aspx?theme=textonly
      However, as ‘Sisterhood’ omits to say, I also said I had no interest in doing so. I still don’t; the last thing I want is to meet ‘Sisterhood’. She needs to learn the difference between ‘can’, and ‘will’.
      As far as I have had no posts removed from this group.
      Not that any of this matters, except to the obsessed ‘Sisterhood’, who doth protest too much.

      1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

        So finally Duncan admits to his threat, previously denied on this very page, of course it’s the fault of his victim (me (close bracket) I would expect nothing less..

        ‘obsessed Sisterhood’…

        Chareteristics of abusive men “manipulativeness – a tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good and portray the woman as crazy or abusive”

  40. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    Chareteristics of abusive men “manipulativeness – a tactic of confusion, distortion and lies. May project image of himself as good and portray the woman as crazy or abusive”

    scroll back to the earliest stories from last year about the Naked Rambler you will see that Duncan began to abuse me because I had an opinion that differed from his and that would never do for a woman. He didn’t like that. And just like all abusive men they are bullies…

    In essence a typically abusive man who when they can’t lash out will resort to verbal bullying EXCEPT he’s met his match.

    Plenty of abuse, victim blaming and smoke screening though the manipulative tactics of the abusive man. And of course it is never their fault, someone else is always to blame, and they can never apologise or admit when they are wrong.


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