Barrister’s ‘gagging for it’ blog about rape goes viral for all the wrong reasons

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By Alex Aldridge on

Weekend newspapers tear into veteran criminal brief, who stands by shocking blog post


A blog post by a criminal barrister entitled ‘She Was Gagging For It’ has gone viral for all the wrong reasons after being picked up by the weekend newspapers.

The blog, by veteran public access brief David Osborne, argues that men should be cleared of rape when a woman claims she only consented to sex because she was drunk.


Written in response to new guidance issued for dealing with rape cases by Director of Public Prosecutions (which details situations where possible victims might be unable to give consent to sex, including because of alcohol or drugs), the blog concludes:

“I have a very simple solution which I hope you will agree is fair. If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped’, this provides the accused with a complete defence. End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!”

The blog was brought to light by The Mirror on Saturday in a front page splash that included additional ill-advised contributions from 71 year-old Osborne. Amongst other things, he told the paper:

“The protection in law that they have got seems to me to be twofold. Number One: Don’t go out in the first place. Or Number Two: If you do go out don’t get rat-arsed. If you get rat arsed, I’m sorry, you are asking for trouble.”

Since then the barrister, who practises independently having been called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1974, has been slammed by basically everyone on Twitter. Barristers, in particular, have been keen to distance themselves from Osborne’s views, fearing perhaps that people misunderstand them as representative of the wider bar.

Nevertheless, Osborne’s post remains live, albeit with a recently-added postscript that reads:

“I have been surprised by the comments from many quarters of the press and the media, as well as individuals, about this article, and in particular the interpretation placed on the final paragraph. By way of clarification, I remain concerned about Ms. Saunders’s possible manipulation of the system by coaching witnesses before they give evidence (see my earlier blog), as well as seeking ways to excuse inexcusable behaviour. That said, if the complainant or victim is under the influence of drink or drugs, she is perfectly entitled to refuse consent, it is quite wrong to take advantage of her drunkenness, and the red-bloodied male proceeds at his peril.”

However, a provocative follow-up post in which Osborne explains how much he loves The Sun‘s Page 3 has been removed, although remains in the Google Cache.

Since the storm blew up over the weekend, Osborne has not posted any further blogs and his @Barristerbard Twitter account — a reference to the time he apparently delivered his final speech to a jury entirely in verse — has been silent.