Victims of rape will be put off reporting their abuse to the police for fear of having their sexual history publicised in court, according to one Lincolnshire MP.
Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn has joined more than 40 other female Labour MPs in calling for a change in the law to prevent the sexual history of rape complainants being used routinely to discredit their evidence in court, following the retrial of footballer Ched Evans.
Evans was found not guilty in a retrial in October 2016, with the sexual history of the complainant being brought up as evidence.
He had previously served two and a half years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the crime.
Following the acquittal, MPs have written to the attorney general warning that women will be less likely to report rape because of the legal precedent set in the trial, stating that it could create a culture of “victim blaming”.
In a letter to Jeremy Wright, they said that the use of the complainant’s sexual history in the case would “make the prosecution of rape cases in the future harder and reporting of these crimes less likely”.
They said: “The verdict and events in this case sets a dangerous precedent about how a victim of rape, usually a woman, has behaved in the past and can be taken as evidence of the way she behaved at the time of the alleged rape.
“This will deter victims from disclosing their abuse and will reduce the number of victims presenting their cases to the police for fear of having their private lives investigated and scrutinised.
We feel that in an age of social media and online stalking there are very real concerns that victims will be fall prey to private investigations in to their past sexual partners.
“The standards in this case could make convictions, already hard to achieve, even harder; and will encourage defence lawyers in rape trials to effectively apply an individual’s completely legal and private sexual history to be admissible.”