Ministers to End Court Torment of Sex Crime Victims

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 7, 1999 | Go to article overview

Ministers to End Court Torment of Sex Crime Victims


Byline: FIDELMA COOK

WOMEN victims of sexual crime will never again have to be cross-examined by their alleged attackers, Scottish Home Affairs Minister Henry McLeish pledged yesterday.

He promised a major change in legislation in the new parliament to protect victims by giving them legal representation throughout a trial.

And later he revealed that even more radical and tougher new proposed laws to protect women in the courts could be unveiled within weeks.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Glasgow he said: 'I believe there is no place in a modern court system where a woman should have to endure this trauma.

'This is 1999 not 1899, the eve of a new millennium and we are saying to women, you should not have double jeopardy. Facing the accused once is bad enough, twice is an insult.' The Minister admitted that the recent case of Jacqueline Radin had forced the strong stance.

The 37-year-old was sexually assaulted during an aromather- apy massage given by 71-year-old William Austin. But when he cross-examined her in court, she was brought to the verge of breakdown.

Austin was found guilty and fined [pounds sterling]400 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, but there was outrage from politicians of all shades and women's groups that his victim had undergone such an ordeal.

Now the case is likely to become a landmark one as having changed the face of victim protection in sexual cases.

Lesley Irvine from Women's Aid said: 'This is brilliant news.

Some time ago we were told that Scotland would not follow these proposals when they had been made in England and Wales. We were told that Scotland had never needed them, but that didn't mean to say that we wouldn't.

The Radin case proved that we did and do need them. …

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