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Durham Uni law academic sparks furious Twitter debate after claiming high-profile rape allegation wasn’t necessarily ‘false’

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Criminal law expert stirs up controversy online

Credit: Durham University Law School

An academic at Durham University Law School has provoked furious debate after saying that a high-profile rape allegation against student Liam Allan wasn’t necessarily “false”.

Criminal law assistant professor Hannah Bows made the Twitter claim despite the now infamous case being dropped after evidence emerged that the sex was consensual. The post generated protests from Allan and even the prosecuting barrister in the case.

Allan’s case generated a wave of media coverage at the end of 2017. The criminology student was charged with rape and sexual assault, but police failed to disclose crucial texts from the complainant that fatally undermined the case against him.

When the texts eventually surfaced — midway through the trial — they reportedly showed the complainant requesting sex with Allan and telling friends that she had enjoyed it. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and halted the case.

Responding to a BBC report yesterday that Allan had been “falsely accused”, Bows tweeted that “there is no evidence the allegation was false. The case was dropped due to police errors”.

The comment drew a strong response — including from Allan himself. He told Bows that there were messages “disproving the allegation entirely”.

Disgusted lawyers also piled in, with criminal solicitor Nicholas Diable saying “It is an established fact that the case was dropped because messages were found in which the complaint made clear the sex was consensual”.

Jerry Hayes, the prosecuting barrister in Allan’s case, weighed in to say that “the withheld evidence showed that the allegations were false. That’s why I offered no evidence”.

But Bows hit back at her critics, saying that evidence in favour of the accused wasn’t “proof that an allegation was false”.

Some members of the public supported the academic. Dr Ann Olivarius replied “why the distinction is so hard to understand for so many escapes me”, and Jill Arnold said “Glad you spoke out – the BBC throw in falsehoods (very sloppy journalism) all the time”.

But many responses were hostile. Some lawyers even claimed that Bows’s point could get her sued for defamation. David Hughes, a barrister at 30 Park Place Chambers, warned that “your tweets are an example of how easily very significant liability can be incurred, very quickly”.

In follow-up tweets, Bows suggested that a rape allegation shouldn’t be described as false unless the claimant has actually been charged or convicted of making false allegations.

She added: “I am stating the victim should not be described as/implied to be a liar/making false allegations when this has not been proven. Simples”.

Bows, whose research focuses on violence against women, victimology and feminist and socio-legal theory, is also a local magistrate. She told Legal Cheek last night that she had nothing further to add on the controversy.

Allan’s case is back in the headlines because of plans to change how alleged victims of crime give consent to having their phones examined by police. Media reports say that new police consent forms amount to “Hand over your phones or see attackers walk free“, but the CPS has attacked “serious inaccuracies” in media coverage, adding that “it is not true that complainants in rape cases must automatically hand over personal data on their digital devices or run the risk of the prosecution being dropped”.

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113 Comments

Unimpressed

Again, Legal Cheek flexes its journalistic muscles in reporting on a Twitter-based argument that most readers would be aware of, a day after it happens.

A frightening thought (and perhaps a good suggestion for the next article): Is Legal Cheek the Buzzfeed of “Legal Journalism”?

Anonymous

So much mansplaining to a top female academic!

Anonymous

Is this sarcasm?

Anonymous

Or rather, correction by people with more experience and knowledge such as… The prosecuting barrister?

#thewokeresistance

The prosecuting barrister is a white, cis gender male, and therefore has no right to comment. How dare men interject their facile arguments into what must remain a female, LGBTQ+ safe space.

MC1Q

Calling her a “top academic” is like calling a 2Q a “senior lawyer”. Might be true some day, but not yet.

Anonymous

What evidence is there that she is a top legal academic? How many people had actually heard of her before? She certainly didn’t appear on my undergraduate reading list …

Anonymous

Her specialism is “feminist and socio-legal theory”. No further comment required.

Gordon Jones Major

Academic vs real world legal practice right there.

The texts/evidence show the allegation was false – hence why no evidence was offered.

Stepping out of the classroom she would know/understand how difficult it is to prosecute cases of perverting the course of justice or wasting police time in these particular circumstances – and if she truly believes that unless the original complainant is successfully prosecuted as such then the allegation still isn’t false, then I wouldn’t want to be taught anything by her.

wisemanner

Isn’t it the case that false accusers are rarely prosecuted, simply because it is not considered to be “in the public interest”? Or, to put it another way, simply because they are female? Whatever, having learned this woman’s background, every male who has been sentenced by her deserves to have his case reviewed. at least, as does every female who has been “sentenced” by her, but for the opposite reason.

Anonymous

Clearly not quite getting the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

Anonymous

People like Hannah Bows are the reason that people don’t take female academics seriously. Huge inability to accept she may be wrong gets us all tarred with a brush of being “emotional” and “lacking objectivity”. Female academics are often accused of pushing their feminist agenda, and this fool is the perfect example of why. Thanks Hannah. #sarcasm

Bob

What a belligerent twat. I hope she is wrecked with a libel suit. I am worried that she is a magistrate.

Anonymous

Just don’t get nicked in Durham. Simples.

Annoyed man

As one of her followers replied to this tweet, the only victim in this is Liam Allen. She needs to stop talking

Anonymous

As a magistrate, hugely worry she continues to use the word victim, in circumstances where prosecuting counsel has corrected her as to the facts of the case being dropped

Anonymous

Not just her, but the Times, too, in yesterday’s coverage of the requirement of *complainants* to turn over their phones to police or risk their case being dropped. They used “victim” until a Q&A section popped up after ca. 600 comments where made.

wisemanner

The press regularly uses the word “victim” when they mean “accuser.” The feminists have been highly successful in fooling a wide range of people into failing to see the little trick they’ve pulled.

Victor Timothy

I’m a Victim!

Anonymous

Her research interests are broadly located within the fields of violence against women, victimology, feminist and socio-legal theory. Over the last six years she has conducted research examining different forms of violence against older people, with a specific focus on domestic violence, sexual violence and homicide of older women. She is currently working on a project with colleagues in the Department of Sociology examining crime and safety at UK music festivals. Outside of the university, Hannah is the founder and director of the International Network for Research into Violence and Abuse and co-director of the British Society of Criminology Victims Network (with Professor Pam Davies at Northumbria University). She is Chair of Age UK Teesside and is a magistrate on the County Durham and Darlington Bench.

Says it all really – alarming that she is a Magistrate!

Barrister

You seem to have proven she is highly qualified.

Anonymous

And so should know better.

The type of qualifications obtained could indicate a narrow viewpoint.

Anonymous

Based on these comments any males who have been sentenced by this magistrate for gender related matters should have their convictions looked at afresh.

Anonymous

I would strongly encourage those offended and/or concerned, raise a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office

https://judicialconduct.judiciary.gov.uk/making-a-complaint/

Anonymous

Her point is quite simple, really, if a little pedantic. The distinction she is trying to make relates to the language we use to describe an unproven accusation, namely that it is ‘false’. Describing accusations against a defendant as false imply the complainant was lying but as no proceedings for perverting the course of justice were brought it is as unfair and incorrect to call her allegations false and it is important not to discourage victims coming forward through fear of being called a liar. This was probably not the best case from which to build this point but, alas, here we are.

Anonymous

The overarching point of “don’t imply someone is guilty of something until they have been proven guilty” is valid. The trouble is that she refers to the “victim”, which in and of itself implies that the girl in this case is a victim of a crime. If Bows wants us to stop assuming/implying that anything illegal has happened without a conviction she could at least follow those rules herself.

Anonymous

The problem is that, by raising that point here, she betrayed almost unfathomable ignorance . As her original tweet shows, she seemed to think that the case was dropped due to police errors. In her own words, there is ‘no evidence’ that the accusation was false, whereas in fact there was overwhelming evidence that this was the case.

Her subsequent attempt to fall back on the idea of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is nothing short of embarrassing. On her logic, there is ‘no evidence’ that people like Jimmy Savile or OJ Simpson ever committed a crime.

Anonymous

Complainants come forward, not victims. People should be discouraged from coming forward with allegations which aren’t true.

Anonymous

The problem is that her first tweet said “there is no evidence the allegation was false”. This was incorrect and she was picked up on it by various people, including the prosecutor. It was at that point she changed her stance to say that the complainant had not been prosecuted etc, and defensively (and wrongly) suggested that was what she had been saying from the beginning.
I’m sure there was a much more effective way of making her legitimate point (IE “acquittal does not mean the complainant was lying”) than attacking everyone who corrected her error.

Anonymous

Ohh wow she’s so intellectually fleet footed

Anonymous

Lol she sits as a lay magistrates – that says it all really!

Anonymous

Hope she’s disciplined for this.

Anonymous

Mags get away with far worse. Because they are unpaid, no one cares

Anonymous

So she feels that a claim can’t be considered false unless the claimant has been found guilty of making a false allegation? That’s a ludicrously high bar for multiple reasons; the CPS usually won’t even bring a case, the case may take months, and there is a very high standard of evidence for such case. It’s bordering on absurd and furthermore a presumption of guilt for the alleged rapist.

Anonymous

You’re making the same logical mistake as most of the regrettable twitter mob. Saying an allegation wasn’t proven to be false is not the same as saying it is true. There are more than two logical states which an allegation can occupy: namely, when we don’t know for certain whether an allegation is true or not. Then the allegation can be described as unsubstantiated or unproven. From this, I hope you can see that pointing out that an allegation was not proven to be false is not tantamount to saying that the accused was guilty of rape.

Anonymous

I think I will prefer to take counsel instructed to prosecute the offence as being more reliable than the academic who was not privy to the evidence.

Anyone who thinks differently is being deliberately provocative.

Anonymous

How in the fuck is she a magistrate

Anonymous

Have you seen lay magistrates? They are conviction machines.

Typically they are white, female, middle class busybodies.

It’s an unpaid role – it attracts a certain type of person who wants to volunteer their time to sit in judgement of their peers

Anonymous

Spot on.

Anonymous

Some of them can be filthy after a sitting though. It’s the power.

Anonymous

Don’t use twitter.

Don’t feed the beast.

It won’t get you any work.

It will only create risk and alienate people.

Anonymous

So how soon before she is reported to the JCO?

Anonymous

As a D, I would not feel comfortable if she was the magistrate deciding my case. Completely defies logic

Anonymous

With all these false complaints, it is time for the absolute privilege against defamation to be lifted to protect the reputations of men who are victims like this.

Anonymous

Astounded she claims to be in a better position to assess the case than the CPS barrister!!!!!

Anonymous

Men are not allowed opinions. All that matters is upping the conviction rates and percentages. That wins votes and appeases the feminist extremists.

Anonymous

Men are allowed opinions.

The wrong opinions so we can correct them.

Even though we are gender neutral, we must hate men.

Thoughtful Person

Hello I like this article 🙂

Anonymous

Some people have a genuine mental block when it comes to believing that women sometimes make false accusations and that men accused of sex crimes might in fact be innocent.

These comments support the case for anonymity for the accused until conviction.

Anonymous

Increasing the conviction percentages is a vote winner. Protecting the lives of innocent young men is not.

Bob

Either anonymity for both accused and complainant or public identification for both. The argument against disclosing the identification of the accused person is that it will let other potential complainant’s know that they can come forward about a given person. Similarly, disclosing the identify of the complainant will allow other people who know the complainant to assist the defence, if for instance she or he has some propensity to lie or otherwise cause mischief.

Anonymous

In reality the accused can achieve anonymity by simply countering the original complainant’s version of events, i.e. she assaulted me. As the barrister who was could having sex in a public toilet did.

Anonymous

That’s just not true.

Anonymous

If nitsbwhoever gets their complaint in first that gets anonymity.

Anonymous

Should call this site Legal Dickhead.

Ciaran Goggins

I went through the Ched Evans case plus many other false rape allegations besides. Is Hannah digging her own grave?

wisemanner

“Is Hannah digging her own grave?”

Hopefully, then a lot of male victims will be saved.

Just Anonymous

“…she hasn’t been formally accused or charged for a false allegation yet the implied rhetoric is that she is guilty of it”

There is no offence of making a false allegation. There is an offence of perverting the course of justice, and Hannah Bows is plainly conflating the two.

Making a false allegation can constitute said offence if done with the necessary mens rea (ie, knowing it’s false and intending the police to take it seriously). However, the mere fact that an allegation was false does not imply that the complainant has done anything wrong, either legally or morally. Rather, she may have honestly deluded herself as to what actually happened. On this point she does deserve a presumption of innocence unless and until the contrary is proved.

However, as for whether the allegation was in fact false, if the prosecuting barrister has said it was false then that is good enough evidence for me.

Ciaran Goggins

aaannnndddd you will only get a short sentence for a false allegation. Every other nation? Ten to twelve years minimum.

Anonymous

Even though she is wrong, it doesn’t matter.

Objective ATTENTION achieved!!!

Anonymous

Bows is a graduate of Salford University. So she is by definition intellectually third rate. Little wonder she is speaking nonsense.

Anonymous

I was under the impression Salford Uni was a leisure centre

Anonymous

Didn’t Salford sign Adam Rooney for £4k per week? Madness.

S&M trainee

I was waiting for someone to make the obvious point. It has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman and everything to do with the fact that she is not smart and very young. Therefore she will make mistakes and then due to her insecurity she will not accept those mistakes and will double down. I’m wondering how Durham law students will feel being taught by a Salford graduate. Haha.

Anonymous

Don’t worry about it. As part of the “Doxbridge” elite, they’ll be fine… pfft, just kidding, I would claim the money back.

Anonymous

She is also neither a solicitor nor a barrister. So she has no actual experience of law in practice. Which also serves to explain why she has misunderstood the issue.

Anonymous

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

Anonymous

The cocksuckers have been deleting comments again.

Anonymous

It is correct to describe the allegations as false because they aren’t true. They aren’t true because he hasn’t been found guilty. Because innocent until proven guilty applies he is therefore innocent, so the allegations must be false.

Wow

I don’t know how long to spend on this comment, but it’ll give it a go. “Allegations are false because they aren’t true”. If one interprets true and false to mean true in fact, and false in fact, respectively, then that is tautological. You have in essence said, “Allegations are false because they are false”. Logically, the function: “false” is identical to the function: “not true” and the same applies to the function “true” being identical to “not false”. “They aren’t true because he hasn’t been found guilty”. Again, if we are taking this to mean true in fact, I think you need to look at this again. This is the same as saying “An allegation cannot be true, unless the accused has been found guilty of the allegation”. How can the accused fairly be found guilty of an allegation, if the allegation is false until he is found guilty? You can’t justify finding someone guilty of an allegation that is untrue, but if all allegations are assumed to be untrue until guilt is established, then every single finding of guilty would be finding a person guilty of an accusation that is an untrue one. A person is assumed to be innocent of a crime until proven guilty, but this doesn’t mean that the person has not performed the act that constitutes the crime. Without then getting drawn into the details of the requisite elements of an offence, a person can commit murder and will still have done so, even though they are presumed innocent until it is proven that they have committed the offence. I think you need to think more.

Anonymous

Its not that difficult, just takes a bit of objective thinking. Innocent until proven guilty means that until someone has been proven to have done something and found guilty of it, then they are innocent. It would not be true to say that they have done that thing. If it isn’t true that they have done it, then any accusation that they have done that thing is false. Here is a case in point, and why Bows was wrong to say that the accusations weren’t necessarily false.

Lol

So an accusation that someone has committed a crime, is false until they are proven guilty of committing the crime? That is unreasonable and irrational. The accusation is not proven, but it isn’t false. It is assumed that the person is innocent of the crime, until proven guilty, but the accusation isn’t necessarily false.

Anonymous

If the person accused of a crime is innocent, and until proven guilty it is assumed that they are, then it follows logically that the accusation is untrue, meaning it is a false allegation.

Lol at thinking that the presumption of innocence is unreasonable.

Lol

It doesn’t necessarily mean that. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in relation to a criminal offence. An allegation that results in criminal charges will usually constitute the actus reus of the crime. As you very well know, there are other elements of a criminal offence (mens rea etc) so it is possible for someone to be innocent of a crime but an allegation to be true. It is also completely irrational to suggest that an accusation is untrue until the accused is found guilty of a crime. The truth of an accusation is independent of the verdict of a criminal case. A person could commit murder yet be found not guilty. This does not mean that the allegation that X murderer Y is false. It means that a jury of laypersons cannot be sure, beyond reasonable doubt, that the crime has been committed. You are assumed to be innocent of a crime until proven guilty, but this does not mean that an allegation cannot be true before the conviction. Using your logic, the truth of an allegation changes after a person is convicted. So if X is convicted of the rape of Y, before the conviction was secured, Y had made a false allegation of rape against X. After the conviction was secured, the truth of the allegation has suddenly changed, and you would submit that the allegation made my Y against X is now, in fact, true. It is absolutely ridiculous. If you really want to consider it more deeply, you would need only look to another country with a different legal system. If I performed actions X, Y and Z, and in circumstances such that I would have committed an offence in the United States, but in such circumstances it would not be an offence in the United Kingdom, to suggest that an allegation that I had in fact performed actions X, Y and Z in such circumstances, would be false in the United Kingdom (because I could not be convicted of a crime proving it) but true, after conviction, in the United States is frankly absurd. I do hope that you are passing by this site, and not a member of the bar.

Anonymous

You’re making the same mistake that Bows made and failing to understand how innocent until proven guilty works. The purpose of a trial is to establish what happened. Until it has been established beyond reasonable doubt, any allegation that someone committed a crime is untrue (because they are innocent until proven guilty) and therefore false. This is why the accusations in this case are false.

I hope you’re not a member of the bar, because the way you’re losing this argument it would be worrying indeed if you were.

Noice.

You’re misunderstanding the presumption of innocence. A person is a innocent of a crime until proven guilty of the crime, but this does not mean that an accusation/allegation is false or untrue. Using your logic, the allegations against Jimmy Savile are false.

Anonymous

You’re misunderstanding the presumption of innocence. If someone is innocent, the logical extension is that accusation against them is untrue, in other words a false accusation. The Savile comparison is an odd one to bring up as the reason he wasn’t prosecuted is because he is dead. I do hope that you’re able to see that it is correct to describe the accusations in the case discussed in the article as false accusations though.

Anonymous

It would be good if anyone who complained about these comments to the JCIO updated the status of the complaint and its outcome here.

Anonymous

Not sure about rape complaints, but without wanting to conflate the two, at least 50% of ‘sexual harassment’ accusations are false.

City trainee

Based on your own studies I presume? Or have you pulled that percentage figure out of a certain orifice?

Anonymous

Based on observed data. 50% is likely an understatement. Not sure where orifices come into it.

Steve

What worries me is that a law academic uses phrases like ‘conclusive proof’ which are meaningless in an informal situation.
Evidence can only be ‘conclusive’ if there is a finder of fact to determine whether the case based on the evidence has come up to proof.
In conversational environments such as Twitter and in discussions between trained legal persons the only word used should be ‘evidence’. Lay persons and journalists can use what words they like, but we should know better.
Once recast in that light, the assistant professor’s mistake is easy to spot. The most she can say is ‘I find the evidence that a false accusation is made unpersuasive’. Then Jerry Hayes replies: ‘I was the prosecuting counsel and I was instantly persuaded that the evidence on the mobile phone demonstrated that the accusation was false, and hence I offered no evidence to support the charge so that it would be dismissed’.
Now what is the professor going to say? ‘I still find the evidence unpersuasive, although you have seen it (and all the other evidence) and I haven’t…’?

Yet another anonymous

To me it is abhorrent for anyone to accuse the victim (accuser) of making a false allegation (perverting the course of justice) as a result of text messages that undermine the prosecution or help the defence. Worse if reported by the Press. I do hope the situation around this can be examined by the Justice Committee/CPS and measures taken to prevent future victims (accusers) of rape and sexual offences being vilified post acquittal of defendant. A proper process exists to prosecute the victim (accuser) if she/he is suspected of having made a false allegation/perverting course of justice. Reporting to the press insinuating that a victim (accuser) has made a false allegation of rape may also compromise the administration of justice should the CPS decide they have enough evidence to proceed with a prosecuting the victim (accuser).

Bob

The accuser was and is not a victim.

Yet another anonymous

I use the word ‘victim’ as terminology rather than anything else Bob (10.42am) and I’m absolutely not referring to the ins and outs of the Liam Allen case here. I speak generally.
I find the vilification of victims (accusers) absolutely awful. You cannot prove a rape/sexual assault did not happen (when it may well have happened) by just bleating very loudly (through the press) that the victim (accuser) has made a false allegation. Cuts both ways – publicly accusing someone of robbing a bank would be just as bad. The criminal process needs to be followed right across the board so that harmful aspersions about people are not cast to the public and trial is by jury rather than media.

Bob

Drugs are bad. Stop calling complainants victims. We are talking about the Liam Allen case. The complainant in that case deserves some aspersions to be cast. That they are still allowed to cower behind secrecy laws is despicable. Men should be warned about her and others of her ilk.

Yet another anonymous

I hear what you say Bob. However, I personally cringe when I read vile comments about anyone especially if they’ve not had the chance to explain themselves in Court. The burden of proof in the criminal court being so high as it is, does not give the accuser (using the word with respect to you Bob) the chance to explain herself (and I don’t wish to minimise Liam’s acquittal in the slightest). Until she, the accuser, is tried before a jury, she too remains innocent until proven guilty. Can’t have the presumption of innocence rule applying to some and not others.

Anonymous

The accuser didn’t stand trial in court, but did make false allegations.

Anonymous

Valid point – she could presumably easily make that allegation in a neighbouring force against another individual and presumably we wouldn’t know any better.

Bob

The accuser was and is not a victim.

Anonymous

Bows has backslid here.

She starts off saying there was no evidence that the woman was lying.

Clearly there was. The texts reveal that the woman enjoyed sex with the man, which happens to be the opposite of rape.

Her backslide is now that the woman has not been prosecuted succesfully for making a false allegation.

There is a gulf between the two positions, but she uses the moniker ‘ i hope that helps your understanding’ to pretend there is not.

It would be exciting to review the verdicts in her magistates court caseload, and check there were no miscarriages of justice, wouldnt it ?

It would also be exciting to uncover why someone would expose the man to a prison sentence and ruined job prospects etc. Sheesh.

Would it also be exciting to suggest that she has brought Durham uni and the magistrates into disrepute ?

Female Law student, london

I wonder how Hannah Bows would feel if a blatantly false allegation was brought against her father/ brother/ male friend / male colleague?

And the case progressed all the way to trial due to at best- police incompetence, but more likely – police complacency and casual malice in CONCEALING evidence ?

Female Law student, london

Hannah Bows: in my opinion, a stubborn and mean-spirited person with poor judgement. Lacks the common sense to step back and de-escalate a situation (that she herself instigated) when shown to have made an error by the prosecutor in the case.

Total sympathy for Liam Allan. What an unnecessary ordeal for him and his family.

Total sympathy for GENUINE victims of crime.

Zac Walker

Hannah Bows, this is shameful – Allan was the victim in this case, so you are “victim blaming”, I’m assuming this is because of his gender and your bias, rather than on anything objective. The text messages showed the allegations were not true, and the case would never have got to court had this been disclosed earlier. By saying the allegation were not false, is akin to saying he is guilty, and you’re talking about a case were the victim was named, and the accuser was anonymous – which makes it even worst. You should be commenting on how he should have had anonymity from the start, how important it is for evidence to be disclosed etc..

Anonymous

Hannah Bows SHOULD be talking about how false allegations supported by police incompetence / deliberate concealement of evidence ACTUALLY UNDERMINES those who are GENUINE victims of crime and sexual offences – making a MOCKERY of proper victims who have suffered….. this sort of activity on twitter truly is shameful and dystopian, like living in an inside-out world……

Hannah Bows is actually doing real victims of crime and sexual offences no favours whatsoever.

Anonymous

I dont understand how Hannah Bows can continue in her role at Durham University when she has such warped views that are objectionable and discriminatory against males who have been falsely accused of a crime that was never committed.

Anonymous

I dont understand how Hannah Bows can continue in her role at Durham University when she has such warped views that are objectionable and discriminatory against males who have been falsely accused of a crime that was never committed.

NQ

To be honest, I don’t understand where this hysteria has come from. Clearly the Allan case is emotive, but her tweets weren’t actually wrong. The reasons for the case being dropped are widely cited, both in official reports, inquiries and by the media. For example, in the inquiry report – https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmjust/859/85904.htm

‘We launched this inquiry following reports in the press of cases which had collapsed, or guilty verdicts which had been overturned on appeal, due to errors in the disclosure process. The most high-profile case, one of those which Joanna Hardy of Red Lion Chambers referred to as “firework cases”.4 ended in December 2017 with the acquittal of Liam Allan’

See https://www.cps.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/publications/joint-review-disclosure-Allan.pdf for similar descriptions.

Mainstream media frequently cite the late disclosure and procedural errors as the reason the case was dropped. Indeed, the Law Gazette says just that – https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-points/sex-texts-and-disclosure-/5064089.article

Clearly the nature of the withheld evidence was why the late disclosure was so important, as it undermined the case. Had it been properly passed on to the CPS when a request for a charging decision was made, it may well have meant a charge was never authorised. Or, a different charge might have been authorised. Or, the prosecution may have still brought the same charges but both prosecution and defence would have built their case in full awareness of the texts.

The issue, as described in all the official reports, was that the disclosure was made once the trial had already started and the complainant had given her evidence. At that point, the CPS case is completely undermined and there is no way the case could have continued. The complainant had already given her evidence and the whole CPS case had been built without knowledge of the texts, so there was no realistic prospect of a conviction at that late stage. However, that does not mean the evidence itself concludes the allegation was false. The evidence was not put to the complainant and there is no further explanation from her, or any other witnesses, about the context of those texts, the meaning and so on. It may well be that the allegation was false, but the evidence does not automatically mean it can be labelled as such.

Anonymous

“However, that does not mean the evidence itself concludes the allegation was false”.

Would be interesting to see the actual texts themselves, the actual content. Liam Allan has stated in his tweet that due to legal restrictions, this is not disclosable at the moment.

I believe that the general indication is that the withheld text message evidence is so strong as evidence of consent that it destroys the allegation. The defendant in the case indicated as much. The Prosecutor in the case indicated as much, and that alone should be considered authoritative. The allegation was made at a time by the person when they knew it was false. The contemporaneous evidence (text message) proves this.

Defending false accusers and supportive academics with mental-gymnastics -arguments/convulted and changing arguments (Hannah Bows) – does nothing to assist genuine victims of sexual violence. In fact, it undermines everything.

Anonymous

Yes, I agree that is the indication given and agree it would be very interesting to know the content of the texts which Allan and the prosecutor refer to, but that is not the evidence in the public domain which the BBC (and others) are relying on to report that the allegation was false.

I did not interpret her tweet as defending false accusers, nor implying Allan’s guilt. I think it is a valid point that the BBC and other media outlets should not report something is false when none of the official reports do so. I also don’t see an issue with her stating the case was dropped due to procedural errors since that is also the reason cited in the reports and wider media coverage. It also true that the police do not consider the complainant to have committed any criminal offence.

‘Commander Smith said that there was no evidence that the woman who made the allegations against Mr Allan had committed any criminal offence’ – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-of-botched-rape-trial-misses-point-says-liam-allan-w6rffj686

Anonymous

Yes, so the accusations were false. Hard to see how anyone, least of all magistrate, could argue otherwise.

Anonymous

Commander Smith comes out of this badly then. I am no expert in criminal law, but two obvious crimes that the lady could be charged with are wasting police time and perjury.

It would be interesting to understand how the texts came to be disclosed. The man and his legal tea cannot know about them. I wonder if there was a complete failure by the police to check her phone (resulting in the new policy of hand your phone in), and the man had his freedom saved by one of the lady’s friends coming forward.

If that is so, it could explain why the man is not allowed to talk about it and has been apologised to.

Complete speculation on my part.

Anonymous

Possibly. Another possibility is that the evidence was there, but missed, or not passed on due to pressure to up conviction rates or as part of a narrative to play down a false claim. The person who definitely comes out of it badly is the one who made the false accusations (and Bows for not making clear the accusations were false).

Anonymous

Pressure to up conviction rates ? As malignant as that, do you really think so ?

Anonymous

I hope not.

Lubricated Elastic

Oh, to be an akademik.

Anonymous

What chance do defendants have if magistrates hold views like this.

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