Channel 4 News reported earlier that the Crown Prosecution Service has apologised to a woman who was blamed for the breakdown of the trial against the man who sexually assaulted her. “Josephine” had been told that her anonymity would be protected during the trial, but just minutes before she was due to give evidence she was told that the screen designed to shield her from the defendant would not be provided. Having been given very little time to decide what to do next, she agreed to give evidence without the screen, but inadvertently revealed that the man had been to prison, and the trial was discontinued. She says she had not been told that she could not refer to the man’s criminal history, and no one explained why the trial had been discontinued:
“When things began to go wrong and I was told I wouldn’t be coming in the next day – I began to feel that I was no longer being treated as a vulnerable victim and witness, but as a problem.”
Josephine tried to get some explanation from the CPS after the case collapsed but they repeatedly told her “the case is dead.” She says the CPS told her “The only way you could get a retrial is if he does it to you again.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions at the CPS has now – one year later – issued Josephine with an apology and she has been given £16,000 compensation. The CPS claim that Josephine’s is an isolated case, but as her lawyer pointed out, the findings of the Stern Review earlier this year – not to mention the experiences of victim support groups across the country – show that it is sadly one of many.
Much respect to Josephine for fighting so hard for this apology, and for speaking out in support of others who have been doubly-victimised in this cruel way.
Image by Brymo, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.