Feminism and false rape allegations
Jemma Beale’s prosecution for a series of false allegations of sexual assault and rape reveals gender feminism’s powerful grip on UK politics
Jemma Beale (25) was found guilty in July in Southwark Crown Court of making a series of false allegations of serious sexual assault and rape against fifteen men over a four year period. One falsely convicted man served two years of a seven year prison sentence in 2011 after the Crown Prosecution Service’s second attempt to secure his conviction on her behalf. Another was falsely arrested after being forced to flee the country.
UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Samuel Main later conceded:¹
Jemma Beale was a determined liar who repeatedly went to great lengths to fabricate evidence in an attempt to see innocent men convicted, including telling deliberate lies under oath. She knew what she was doing but cynically tried to use the criminal justice system to serve her own purpose.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Lynott, who led the investigation into Beale’s false allegations of sexual assault and rape, notes that during the investigations Beale received support measured in thousands of hours, but that she:²
has been exposed as a serial liar and I can only think that she was motivated partly by financial reward
The financial incentive for making false allegations of sexual assault and rape are substantial. The minimum award for successfully securing conviction for rape was increased under the previous Labour Government from £7,500 to £11,000. Anyone making false allegations is afforded total anonymity during the process.³ And, as long as they withdraw the false allegation — say, having tested the prospect for a successful claim — the Crown Prosecution Service will not prosecute. From its press release:¹
The CPS will never prosecute somebody for perverting the course of justice simply because, for instance, there may be discrepancies in the evidence, or because the victim chooses not to continue to support a case
So, the Beale case shows us that, under current arrangements: a strong motive and ready means exists for people to lie under oath while bringing speculative false allegations of sexual assault and rape; people do so, with little personal risk; the act of doing so creates grotesque injustice for men; and it can go undetected for years.
You might think, given the motive, means, and practice of lying under oath while making false allegations of sexual assault, that the UK justice system would take particular care to safeguard provisions afforded its mostly male victims to defend themselves adequately from it.
In fact, the Crown Prosecution Service and UK Government, under the influence of the feminist advocacy lobby, are making significant efforts to further weaken such provisions. To understand such a perverse outcome, it’s necessary to take a step back to survey the extent to which UK institutions have been captured by feminist interest.
Crown Prosecution Service
The CPS is a publicly funded agency with the responsibility (in England and Wales) for deciding who faces criminal charges, and for conducting their prosecution. Its priorities are set by Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders. Although tasked with ensuring justice for all members of society, Ms Saunders attaches particular importance to the justice afforded women. In the view of barrister Laura Perrins:⁴
it is [Saunders] attachment to a doctrinaire brand of feminism that is the most disturbing feature of her CPS leadership…Hardline feminists may be glorying in Ms Saunders’s tenure. The rest of us should surely be concerned that the organisation is in danger of losing its sense of purpose and proportion.
Ms Saunders is specifically committed to the goal of increasing the rate of conviction of men for allegations of sexual assault and rape. To support this, she has switched CPS resources, already diminishing under austerity measures, from prosecutions of current alleged crimes for the benefit of all members of society (the majority of victims of violent crime in the UK, for example, are men), to prosecutions of men for current and past alleged crimes for the benefit of women.
Additionally, in her “Violence against Women and Crime Report”, she states:⁵
…despite beginning to see a rise in volumes, with a 25% rise in defendants charged during 2013–14, the conviction rate [for rape] fell. We are taking this extremely seriously…We have pledged our commitment to addressing the issues preventing rape cases from successfully progressing through the criminal justice system to ensure both a rise in volumes and proportions
Ms Saunders notes that, as a consequence, police referrals for cases involving violence against women and girls in 2014 rose 17% to 109,419; prosecutions rose 10% to 90,516; and convictions rose 11% to 67,380. The resulting conviction rate of 74.4% was ‘the highest ever’. In achieving this, Ms Saunders acknowledges the influence of feminist advocacy groups “in every CPS Area”.⁶
To justify extending the scope and reach of misandric legislation, feminists must argue that the unsafe conviction rate for sexual assault and rape is very low. Yet statistics on those rates are so contaminated by opinionated feminist advocacy research that the actual rate is hard to determine.⁷ In practice, the CPS claims that the unsafe conviction rate is less than 2% i.e. a false conviction rate lower than the estimate, in other jurisdictions, for more tightly controlled capital punishment cases.
Giving full benefit of the doubt to the feminist case and accepting their figure of 2%, the individual who was imprisoned by Beale’s false allegation of sexual assault was potentially one of (2% x 67,380) c. 1,350 falsely convicted men that year. Credible sources estimate the true false accusation rate to be between 2% and 10%.
Notwithstanding, Ms Saunders informs her ‘stakeholders’:
We remain committed to building on our achievements, learning from our mistakes and working with our stakeholders to ensure a better service for the victims of these crimes.
Her Majesty’s Government
In principle, Ms Saunders receives her direction from politicians. Two prominent feminist Labour Party politicians she is currently receiving specific direction from are Member of Parliament and former Minister for Women, the Right Honourable Harriet Harman QC MP, and prominent feminist campaigner and Member of Parliament, The Right Honourable Jess Phillips MP.
Ms Phillips gained notoriety when she laughed on camera at a proposal to debate educational underachievement in boys, and male suicide and cancer.⁸ She chairs the female only Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) with the declared intention of forcing the current minority government to pass policies favourable to women, including female-only social security reform, the prohibition of men from participation in certain elections, and the transfer to women of the control of industrial strategy.⁹
Noting approvingly of the disproportionate power to control legislation that blocs of MPs hold in minority governments, Ms Phillips claims:
The women’s PLP is 119 strong; as a group we dwarf the 10 DUP [Democratic Unionist] MPs. We will be using our collective voices to push for the things that we know matter to women in the UK.
Of the many things that matter to women in the UK, Mss Phillips and Harman are particularly interested in altering the law in their favour.
Not only is the Government vulnerable to Mss Phillips’ and Harman’s influence; the public is also. In a letter from the Criminal Law Solicitors Association to Ms Harman registering their concern at “incautious public remarks” made by Mss Phillips and Harman “designed more to alarm than inform”, they spell out the danger:¹⁰
We are deeply concerned that there is such a desperate absence of civic education in the UK that public misapprehension can be created and manipulated with the greatest ease
The Beale false accusation case offers an example of one law that Mss Phillips and Harman are creating and manipulating public apprehension to have changed. Under current arrangements, a man falsely accused of sexual assault or rape relies on a provision contained in Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Justice act 1999. Under the provision, designed to protect the claimant from irrelevant and potentially harmful questioning by the defendant, a judge may allow certain evidence to be admitted by the defendent if, by not allowing it, a miscarriage of justice is likely to occur.
The provision has the occasional effect, in Ms Saunders words, of “preventing rape cases from successfully progressing through the criminal justice system to ensure both a rise in volumes and proportions” – an issue she has pledged the CPS’s commitment to addressing.
The provision also frustrates those who might believe that falsely imprisoning more men in order to increase the total number of convictions is an entirely reasonable sacrifice (for men) to make.
Feminist argue that the choice between false imprisonment and high conviction rate does not occur because, it is claimed, the rate of false rape allegations is negligible. That in turn rests on an argument that the process of bringing an allegation of rape to court has historically been so traumatic as to all but eliminate false allegations.⁷
There is little compelling evidence (that has not been contaminated by advocacy research methodology) to support this claim. There is even less for any claim that those prepared to lie under oath for compensation money might be susceptible to trauma. However, accepting arguendo that trauma supresses false accusation, feminism’s highly successful programs to reduce such trauma and to increase incentives — anonymity, support services measured in thousands of hours, increased compensation payments, etc.—might reasonably be expected to result in a rise in the rate of false allegations and unsafe convictions. Stronger, not weaker, legal safeguards would therefore be required.
Instead, Mss Phillips and Harman, in service of the goal shared with Crown Prosecution Service Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders to increase the volume and conviction rate of men, are currently sponsoring enabling changes to the Youth Justice and Criminal Justice Act 1999 to remove existing protections for men.¹¹
The Beale false accusation case illustrates the injustice that innocent men face as a consequence of the change. In its review of Beale’s case, the CPS noted (my emphasis):
During [the trial of the man wrongfully imprisoned for rape], Jemma Beale lied under oath saying she would never have sexual relations with a man and that therefore any sexual relations could not have been with her consent. She made the same claims in a retrial.
Crucial to overturning his wrongful imprisonment was the victim’s ability, under the provisions of Section 41, to expose the claimant’s lie by bringing evidence of her sexual history. The harmful effect of the changes being brought by Phillips and Harman are summarised by Criminal Law and Human Rights Barrister Matthew Scott as follows:¹²
He would no longer be entitled to rebut anything a complainant chose to say about her own sexual behaviour. She (or he) could say anything, safe in the knowledge that the defendant would be absolutely prohibited from rebutting even the most preposterous lies. And even if defence, prosecution and judge were all to agree that a refusal to allow the cross-examination (or adduce the evidence) was certain to create an unfair trial, a judge would still be unable to do anything about it.
In short, had the changes being introduced by Harman and Phillips been in effect during his trial, the victim would likely still be in prison.
Scott summarises the implication of the change:
The inevitable result of such a change in the law would be to produce grotesque injustice. It could not do anything else. How could it possibly always be right that a defendant should be prevented from telling a jury that he was in a sexual relationship with a complainant?
Scott further notes the proposal is:
guaranteed to produce injustice and, for good measure, is virtually certain to be ruled incompatible with the Article 6 right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Prime Minister the Right Honourable Theresa May MP has stated her firm intention during BREXIT to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, removing its ultimate protection for men falsely accused of sexual assault and rape.¹³
Where does this leave us?
Feminism cannot safely be regarded as a marginal influence on UK society. Jemma Beale’s case illuminates the extent to which feminism has captured key institutions of power — the feminist head of the Criminal Prosecution Service, building an opaque network of feminists in its every branch; a prominent feminist lobbyist, now in government and chair of a disproportionately influential feminist bloc; and a feminist former Minister for Women — exploiting a weak government and uninformed public to manipulate legal, social, and economic policy to fundamentally reshape the legal landscape of the country in accordance with a feminist political program.
Nor can feminism’s claims for acting in the interests of both women and men be safely accepted. The changes being made are deeply polarising, demonstrably unsafe, and will measurably increase the already unacceptable volume of miscarriages of justice endured by men in this country.
Harman and Phillips, having been temporarily selected and empowered by Democratic processes, can be controlled and removed by them. They should be. The risks presented by their proposals should be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny. In the event that the risks cannot be controlled, the proposals should be thrown out. Their conduct should be investigated and, in the event that the pair have been found to be acting outside of their responsibilities to their constituents, male and female, they should be censured.
Saunders is a different matter. As a public servant, she has a duty to uphold the highest standards of impartiality in her direction of the state’s prosecution function. That duty would be fundamentally compromised by any unwillingness to separate her private beliefs from her public work. If she is shown to be incapable of maintaining that separation, she should be removed from office.
¹ Crown Prosecution Service. 2017. “Woman Convicted of Making False Rape Claims Against Innocent Men.” July 6. (link)
² Metropolitan Police. 2017. “Woman convicted of perjury offences” July 6. (link)
³ Section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 (link)
⁴ Perrins, Laura. 2016. “The Feminists Who Are Turning British Justice Against Men,” September 7
⁵ Criminal Prosecution Service. 2014. “Violence Against Women and Girls Crime Report.” (link). Perrins⁴ describes it thus: “In triumphant language, the document spells out a lengthy catalogue of success for the modern feminist agenda.”
⁶ Saunders: “I am incredibly proud of what the CPS has achieved in recent years in tackling [Violence Against Women and Girls] issues, in no small part due to the leadership shown by dedicated VAWG coordinators in every CPS Area.”
⁷ Greer, E. 1999. “The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism’s Two Percent False Rape Claim Figure.” Loy LAL Rev. Demonstrates the origin of the statistic in an unpublished speech several decades ago about a single New York City study based on inaequate research methodologies, replicated by notionally respectable feminist advocacy researchers to the level of ‘consensus’ through pyramidical referencing.
⁸ Bell, Dan. 2017. “Who’s Really Being Silenced in the Gender Debate?.” Spiked. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/whos-really-being-silenced-in-the-gender-debate/17602.
⁹ Guardian. 2017. “Labour’s female MPs vow to use Commons strength to improve lives of women” July 6 (link)
¹⁰ Criminal Law Solicitor’s Association. 2017. “Re: 41 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999” March 28 (link)
¹¹ House of Commons. 2017. “Notice of Amendments” March 30 (link)
¹² Scott, Matthew. 2017. “Harriet Harman’s Proposed Ban on Sexual History Evidence Would Be Grotesquely Unfair.” Barristerblogger.com. March 26. (link)
¹³ Guardian. 2016. “UK must leave European convention on human rights, says Theresa May” April 25 (link)