Law Student Cleared of Rape Faces Fresh Quiz over Alleged Sex Attack

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 23, 2007 | Go to article overview

Law Student Cleared of Rape Faces Fresh Quiz over Alleged Sex Attack


Byline: Marcello Mega

A FORMER law student who was controversially acquitted of rape has beenquestioned over a second sex attack allegation.

Edward Watt was cleared of raping a fellow student at Aberdeen University in1999 in a case that led to the law on consent having to be clarified by a panelof seven judges.

But he has now been questioned over a rape allegation by a woman who claims heattacked her when they were both 15 and living in the Elgin area.

Mr Watt, now 30 and working in a solicitors office in the North o f England,was questioned by Grampian Police and released without charge. Police arecontinuing their inquiries.

During h i s 1999 trial, Aberdeen High Court heard his alleged victim say shehad not given her consent, but admit she had not offered any resistance to hisadvances.

Judge Lord Abernethy said the absence of consent alone was not rape and forcewould have had to have been used to justify the charge. He then dismissed thecase.

The decision provoked fury and led to a judicial hearing in which seven judgesled by Lord Cullen, then Lord President, ruled that Lord Abernethy had beenwrong and that the absence of consent amounted to rape.

Mr Watts acquittal was unaffected by their decision.

He became something of a hate figure for womens groups after threatening to suehis accuser for defamation, which they saw as an attempt to punish her anddeter others from reporting rape.

He also c ampined vociferously that men accused of rape should be given thesame anonymity as their accusers unless convicted.

Last night, Mr Watt, who is originally from Hatton of Cruden, Aberdeenshire,said he was distressed and angry to learn that details of the new allegation,which he strenuously denies, had emerged.

He added: My whole life changed, and to some extent was ruined, because I was avictim of a false allegation of rape eight years ago.

Just when I thought the coast was relatively clear and I might begin to thinkagain about making a career in the law, another false allegation of rape comesout of the blue. …

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Law Student Cleared of Rape Faces Fresh Quiz over Alleged Sex Attack
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