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False retraction of rape claim case to go to supreme court

PUBLISHED March 16, 2012

Woman says appeal court's refusal to quash her conviction for falsely retracting accusation of rape against husband is wrong

A woman who was jailed for falsely retracting an accusation of rape against her allegedly violent and abusive husband is to take her case to the supreme court.

The 29-year-old woman, known as Sarah, was told on Tuesday that the court of appeal had refused to quash a criminal conviction against her for retracting a true allegation of rape against her husband.

"I have a lot of emotions [ in the wake of the appeal judgment]," Sarah told The Guardian. "I am angry and very disappointed. I just feel this (the judgment) isn't right, I know it's the wrong answer. The criminal conviction I have against my name is a serious one and it is affecting my life and future."

The Welsh mother-of-four was jailed for eight months in November 2010 after she admitted perverting the course of justice by retracting accusations that her husband had repeatedly raped her. He had been charged with six counts of rape but the case was discontinued after she changed her position following, she says, extreme pressure from her husband and his sister. She was charged after later telling police it was the retraction that had been false.

Her husband has never been convicted but Alison Levitt QC, acting for the crown, conceded at the appeal court in February that it "unreservedly accepts the factual background to this case. It's plain that [the woman] was subjected to a lengthy period of domestic violence and it's implicit in the plea that she was the victim of rape."

The husband has denied the accusations and has never had the chance to challenge them in court.

On Tuesday the court said it was dismissing Sarah's appeal because although it accepted she had been suffering post-traumatic stress disorder at the time she retracted her allegations, she was "undoubtedly guilty of a serious crime."

Sarah's solicitor, Chris Hallsworth, who also sits as a deputy district judge, said that if the supreme court did not return a favourable judgment, "this case raises issues of such public importance" that they would seek a Queen's Pardon.

"We took this case on because justice was not done or seen to be done. Justice has still not been done and so we will fight on," he said.

"In a proper system of justice there should be a way to put right the wrongs to which Sarah was subjected. The DPP [director of public prosecutions] changed its policy regarding such cases specifically as a result of this one, and so that no one in a similar position will be prosecuted in future.

But, he argued, "it isn't enough for others not to be subjected to a prosecution in future ? she would not have been prosecuted in the first place had the full facts been known. Why should she be left with a conviction against her name?" © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds