Under UK law, it is illegal for the people on a jury to ever speak about what went on in the jury room. Today’s Guardian includes a piece by one woman who was on a jury which found Kirk Reid not-guilty of sexual assault in 1996. He went on to commit a series of sexual assaults which – finally – landed him in prison, but not before at least 71 women were assaulted.

She makes a compelling case for at least partially lifting the restrictions on jurors.

Juries look to the judge for guidance. Judge Gee, looming over us with pompous disdain, decreed that there was no DNA evidence. He did not remind us that the woman’s testimony was evidence enough. He appeared to instruct us that any conviction might be unsafe.

Our jury room movie would have been called One Angry Woman and 11 Irritated People Who Want Lunch. Jury secrecy laws forbid me from saying more than that the judge’s instructions must have reverberated in the minds of my fellow jurors. When Reid was found “not guilty”, the young victim looked at the jury in dismayed disbelief. She had faced her attacker in court, only to be publicly discredited. I was determined to let her know that the verdict did not mean she had been disbelieved.

I tracked down her address and wrote praising her bravery. The letter I received back was harrowing. When Reid was acquitted, the young woman was crushed, emotionally distraught and frightened of reprisals. She was comforted by the fact that someone believed her.

Reid went on to assault large numbers of women in the same way, raping several of them. But the police are not the only ones to blame. Not only was the CPS tactically inept, but why was a man like Judge Gee – formerly a commercial solicitor – appointed to the criminal court? (He was later arrested for mortgage fraud. His own jury failed to agree.)

Read the rest here

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 1 July 2010 at 11:23 am

Yet more evidence of the way our biased court system operates. This is why expert witnesses should be used in rape cases in order to challenge embedded myths concerning the ‘mythical real rapist’ and the ‘mythical real female rape survivor.’

I totally agree the police are not the only ones to be held accountable, the whole criminal justice system was set up by and for men and it is men’s interests and men’s rights which continue to supercede women’s rights.

We must not ignore fact coalition government is seeking anonymity for men charged with raping a woman/girl. Yet another instance of male interests superceding women’s and girls’ human rights.

Rape culture? Yes despite claims to the contrary.

polly // Posted 2 July 2010 at 7:27 am

What I found interesting about this piece was this bit.

“The defence barrister, on the other hand, was shrewd and persuasive. He insinuated that the victim was unstable and probably a man-hater. ”

You can’t really fault a defence barrister for doing their job (a lot better than the prosecution by the sound of it) but this is quite a common tactic used by the defence in rape/sexual assault cases. And it should be stopped because even if someone IS a man hater, it doesn’t mean they’re going to make up stories about sexual assault does it?

But also it means that it’s virtually impossible for a lesbian or woman with mental illness(or any woman who is in anyway a feminist) to report rape/sexual assault, because she will just be depicted as a ‘man hater’ or ‘unstable’ who is making it up. I’ve heard of just this – a defence barrister claiming the victim was a ‘man hating lesbian’ in a sexual assault case, and yes, the defendant was acquitted.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds