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Live webchat with Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, Tuesday 13 March, 9.30-10.30am

(130 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Mar-12 14:05:01

As part of our week supporting our 'We Believe You' campaign, we're very pleased to welcome Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosections, for a webchat on Tuesday, 13 March at 9.30am. He'll be happy to address questions raised by 'We Believe You'.

Keir was called to the Bar in 1987 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 2002. Before being appointed DPP, his main areas of practice were human rights, international law, judicial review and criminal law. He was named QC of the Year in the field of human rights and public law in 2007 by the Chambers & Partners directory, and in 2005 he won the Bar Council's Sydney Elland Goldsmith award for his outstanding contribution to pro bono work in challenging the death penalty throughout the Caribbean and also in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.

He was appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2008. Since being appointed, Keir has spoken publicly about the need to improve the way we prosecute cases of violence against women and girls. The second annual CPS Lecture was given by Baroness Stern on "The crime of rape and justice for victims". In April last year, Keir made a speech about "Domestic Violence: The facts, the issues, the future".

Keir is married and has two children: a son aged three, and a daughter aged one.

Because of Keir's professional responsibilities, the CPS has asked us to make a few things clear. Prosecutors take a case from pre-charge (giving the police advice in a complex investigation) through to verdict. The CPS authorises charges in serious or complex cases, including all charges of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence. Keir will be happy to address general questions raised by the We Believe You campaign, but please be aware that he won't be able to discuss the specifics of any cases, including those that are currently under investigation or going through the courts. Sentencing itself is a matter for the judiciary rather than the CPS, and as such it would be difficult for Keir to discuss the specifics of sentencing in any case. Finally (and somewhat obviously), changes in the law are a matter for Parliament rather than for Keir himself.

Do please join us on Tuesday at 9.30am for the webchat. If you can't join us live, please post up your questions for Keir here in advance.

KeirStarmer Tue 29-May-12 10:55:14

Nyac Sorry if this question was missed, it was not intentional – the questions were coming thick and fast. I am concerned that rape victims should have confidence in coming forward and I do recognise that if they fear prosecution should they change or retract their evidence that can clearly affect that confidence. That is why, a year ago, I amended our policy on prosecuting those who it is judged have made false allegations of rape.

Nyac

I asked this question upthread and he ignored it:

"Are you concerned by the number of rape victims being prosecuted for supposedly making false reports of rape, and what effect do you think those prosecutions will have on rape victims coming forward, given how few we know do at the moment out of the number of women actually raped."

KeirStarmer Tue 29-May-12 10:57:04

LapsusLinguae Sorry I missed your question. For the past year I have put in special arrangements for all cases of false allegations which has required them to be handled at CPS HQ. We are now requiring all Chief Crown Prosecutors personally to have sight of these cases and continuing CPS HQ oversight through quality reports.

I can certainly reassure you that failure to find corroborating evidence is never treated as amounting to a false allegation of rape. I also accept that there are many factors that may affect individuals who change or withdraw their rape allegation and our revised policy makes it absolutely clear that we will not prosecute unless we can prove that the original allegation was false and even in those circumstances we will go on to consider if it is in the public interest to prosecute.

LapsusLinguae

Keir seemed to miss hmm my post of Tue 13-Mar-12 08:56:19 - so I will repeat as it is relevant to the new posts added here:

I seem to remember reading that all cases of "false rape allegation" (perverting the course of justice) - are now passed personally to you for review.

Can you confirm this and can you also reassure people that if the police fail to find enough corroborating evidence of rape that this does not equal a false rape allegation?

What sort of evidence exists that these false rape allegations are indeed false - particularly when we know that some factors that the public might think are persuasive of this are in fact rape myths (delay in reporting/not telling anyone else/retracting due to threat of violence/continuing a relationship with the rapist). The Daily Mail some papers LOVE these stories and report them out of proportion with rape cases - what can be done about that?

KeirStarmer Wed 30-May-12 11:34:23

LineRunner I certainly encourage all women and girls to report rapes and sexual assaults and both I and the CPS are committed to supporting victims and witnesses of rape and sexual assault.

My only reticence in saying how I would advise someone who had been raped or sexually assaulted was not so much concern with whether or not they should report the matter, which I think they should, but how they might react and how they might be supported. I am only reticent because I know it is very easy in the abstract to say how one would react to a very serious and sensitive issue when, in reality, until one is in that position one never really knows how you would react.

LineRunner

I think it would be helpful for the DPP to get into a bit more detail about encouraging all women and girls to report rapes and sexual assaults, especially given (as he has said on this thread) (and to paraphrase)

(a) his own [understandable] reluctance to say how he would advise someone close to him in the same circumstances, (b) his own leadership in respect of action and policy; and (c) and his own department's policy on prosectuing alleged falsehoods.

KeirStarmer Wed 30-May-12 11:35:17

edam I'm sorry you missed the session. I hope I have said quite a lot about the issue you raise both when I first answered questions and in these subsequent replies.

edam

Damn, I missed this and he managed to avoid saying anything at all about the horrifying cases where women are prosecuted for daring to report rape.

SirEdmundFrillary Tue 04-Dec-12 14:33:28

Last week on Radio 4‘s ‘Today’ programme a solicitor who represents abuse victims spoke about the CPS’s attitude of dismissiveness.

In my experience he’s right. Hearing it was upsetting but a relief. I don’t want to explain my own situation here.

With institutional racism organisations had to dig deep and to me this seems similar.

So my 2nd question is, what do you think of that?

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