A number of high-profile cases involving false accusations of rape have created controversy over the way such cases are handled within the United Kingdom.
Most recently, 19-year-old electrician Connor Fitzgerald had spent three months imprisoned after an ex-girlfriend (who has been granted lifelong anonymity) accused him of sexual assault. He was only released after the revelation of text messages which showed that the woman who accused him had been acting maliciously. In texts to her friend, the woman had written: “I’m not just going to mess up his life I’m going to ruin it lol”. The accuser further stated that the reason for the false accusation was that “he moved on so quickly” after the couple broke up.
Despite a lack of evidence, Fitzgerald was arrested in his family home, denied bail, and detained at HMP High Down, a category B prison in Surrey. Although Fitzgerald was acquitted, it is unclear as of yet whether or not the accuser will face prosecution for the false allegation.
The Fitzgerald case comes just days after Scotland Yard was forced to apologise to Liam Allan, 22, after the case against him crumbled after texts revealing his innocence were shown to lawyers.
The judge overseeing the case claimed that the text messages clearly showed that the accuser had consented to, and enjoyed, the sex. In stark contrast to her allegation of rape, an investigation into the text messages revealed that it was the accuser who had, in fact, had been ‘pestering’ Allan for ‘casual sex’ before accusing him of sexual assault following a rejection.
After facing criticism over a perceived mishandling of the case, Scotland Yard has said that no officer will be disciplined over the handling of the case.
Such occurrences have increased in recent months. In October 2017, a woman had been sentenced to five years in prison after filing a false charge against a 22-year-old soldier. As with the other cases, the accusation came after the defendant engaged in consensual sex but rejected offers of a long-term relationship. Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec stated that Rebecca Palmer, 26, had “invented fake friend profiles and produced false correspondence hoping that these would be accepted as supportive evidence of her false claims“.
Also in October, a police officer considered committing suicide after a woman he met on a dating site falsely accused him of rape. He was later acquitted.
The CPS announced in mid-January that they were reviewing all on-going rape and sexual assault cases due to the large number of defendants who were accused of such crimes before having all charges against them dropped after crucial evidence emerged at some point during the trial.
In most cases, the defendants did or would have served prison time had the accuser not incriminated themselves through electronic communication.
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that they are reviewing 600 cases of rape and sexual assault. Thousands more are under review nationally, the CPS has stated.
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