A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ken Clarke in rape proposal row

Ken Clarke the Justice Secretary
Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, finds himself at the centre of a row because he did not choose his words carefully. His understanding of the cause of the row. He had appeared on a Radio 5 phone-in show. When BBC interviewer Victoria Derbyshire told him "rape is rape", he replied, "No it's not, if an 18-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old and she's perfectly willing, that is rape because she is under age, she can't consent. What you and I are talking about is we are talking about a man forcibly having sex with a woman and she doesn't want to - a serious crime."

Now legally he is right. And I think most people, if they sit and think about it without any prejudicial thoughts, would have to agree. The two are in no way the same. However, certain people rush to judgement because they have "issues", many of which are quite understandable. However, saying "rape is rape" is meaningless. Each situation arises out of different circumstances. There might be similar traits to the crimes, but they are definitely not all the same.

Quick as a flash Ed Miliband got all priggish and thought he was onto a winner by seeking Ken Clarke's immediate resignation to be followed by the demand for a grovelling apology. This just shows why Miliband is not fit to be prime minister. For him the mantra is a means to an end.

In the same programme the Justice Secretary was confronted by sex attack victim Gabrielle Browne. She said later, "Ken Clarke didn't listen. His comment about not all rapes really being rape was disgraceful for a man in his position, a man of previous ministerial experience and previous experience as a barrister.

"He did not show empathy or understanding. If he can't open his eyes and ears and listen and see life from a victim's perspective then he should resign."

But this is where her natural emotions blinker her understanding of the truth. Ken Clarke's example of distinctions in rape is legally and factually correct. And explaining a legal distinction does not mean one excludes empathy or understanding.

It would appear that the government is seeking to cut costs in trials. One cost cut would be if those charged with rape have the opportunity to plead guilty (if they are so minded) before a trial begins in order to obtain a reduced sentence term. It also means that the main witness does not have to go through the ordeal of a court appearance and the trial costs are reduced.

It all sounds so reasonable to me. If Ken Clarke had chosen his words with efficacious carefulness we would hardly be talking about it.

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