Just because someone makes an allegation does not make it true.
The presumption of innocence is a long-standing doctrine that safeguards a person’s liberty by placing the legal burden of proof on the prosecution (the people that bring the case to court). This means that, in order to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the alleged offence.
In reality, however, there appears to be a presumption of guilt rather than innocence. You may recall the documentary ‘Making a Murderer’, which told the story of an innocent man being imprisoned for a sexual crime he did not commit. Unfortunately, this is not a rarity and it happens every day, all over the world, including in this country.
The police often focus on a suspect from the beginning and do everything to build a case against them, rather than investigating other suspects or alternative possibilities; they see what they want to see. One such miscarriage of justice was seen in the case of Victor Nealon, who was wrongly convicted of rape and spent 17 years in jail as a result of police and CCRC failings to carry out the simple DNA test that eventually proved him innocent – then they denied him any compensation for the nightmare he endured.
Police and CPS failure to disclose evidence that may aid the defence is unfortunately not uncommon. A CPS review this year found that evidence had been withheld from defence lawyers in 47 rape and sexual offence cases. If the police and prosecutors are failing to pass on vital information that may exonerate defendants, then the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence is clearly undermined. We must press the police and CPS for this information and hold them accountable when they fail to do so.
Given the very serious penalties imposed on those found guilty of sexual offences and the social stigma that arises from such allegations, it is important to instruct a specialist firm with extensive knowledge of sexual offences. We will investigate all avenues of defence, including consent, fabrication and mistake, as well as making sure the CPS and police are competent in their duties of disclosure.
We understand that a sexual offence allegation is serious and has a damaging impact on every area of life, including social relationships, employment and mental well-being. This is why we are determined to provide the best possible defence to move towards a fair and just legal system.
If you are affected by false allegations of abuse and would like information, advice or emotional support, a useful website to visit is http://www.false-allegations.org.uk/