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Lichfield and Burntwood MP says plan for mobile phones to be handed over in rape investigations will help avoid people being wrongly accused

Lichfield and Burntwood’s MP says plans for mobile phones to be handed over by victims of rape could help clear those falsely accused of such crimes.

The proposal would allow full access to digital devices and comes after the collapse of cases where crucial evidence had later been found through such channels.

Charities have warned that it could prevent more victims from speaking out.

But in a debate in the House of Commons, Michael Fabricant MP told Home Office minister Nick Hurd that such a move could help avoid ruining the lives of innocent people.

“The victims of rape are not only those who have had this terrible crime done to them, but people who have been wrongly accused,” he said.

Michael Fabricant
Michael Fabricant

“A young friend of mine was wrongly accused of rape, making his life a misery for months and months – he was bursting into tears and all the rest of it because of the stress.

“Only through telephone evidence that emerged was it shown that his accuser had been sexting him. He had not seen this person for years.

“So may I just say to the Minister that he should say to the police that this is the right course of action? Of course it has to be proportionate, but, justice has to be done – and that includes for those people who have been accused of rape when in fact they are innocent.”

“Heinous crime”

Mr Hurd said that while victims of such serious crimes should be able to come forward, their was a responsibility to ensure thorough investigations take place.

“It is an absolutely heinous crime and there is huge space for us to improve,” he said.

“However, we have to be mindful, not least in the light of very recent highly publicised cases, of the damage when things go wrong where lives and personal lives are ruined as a result of failures in the disclosure system and cases collapse at the last minute.

“That is a terrible outcome for absolutely everyone.

“Underpinning this proposal is a desire of the police to improve the understanding of what they are requesting so that consent is better informed.”

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4 Comments

  1. JLC

    1st May, 2019 at 11:55 am

    And let’s not forget the very recent Conservative councillor who was found to live over 100 miles from her constituency….https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2019/03/04/burntwood-councillor-who-lived-190-miles-away-from-the-town-resigns/

  2. Philip Allso

    1st May, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    It would be more helpful if the police disclosed evidence to the defence as they are required by law to do. This does not seem to be an automatic commitment. Many would be concerned at disclosing the contents of their phone. A modern phone has many hundreds of pages as well as using language unique to phone users. To decipher such contents would require facilities akin to GCHQ. This seemingly simplistic way of collecting evidence is far from simple. It is likely to prejudice both the guilty and the innocent and is likely to create more problems than it solves rather than bringing about justice.

  3. JLC

    1st May, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Apols – the above comment was posted in the wrong story.

  4. Wilde

    3rd May, 2019 at 10:57 am

    If there was complete anonymity for the accused up until they were found guilty – this wouldn’t be an issue. Sadly that’s not the case, and in some cases people found to be innocent are already tarred with the “rapist” brush because their identity has been made public – their lives more or less ruined.

    It’s grossly unfair.

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