Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Rape of the Clark

Rape (3): "any violation or abuse" (Collins Compact English Dictionary). I suppose I should not be astonished at the ridiculous, overblown response to Ken Clark's remarks yesterday. Nobody doubts that he regards all rape as serious and most people who think about it will admit that there are differing degrees of seriousness of rape so why can't the Lord Chancellor say so ? No surprise perhaps that the great guardian of women's rights The Sun should attack him but Ed Miliband should know better. Clark is one of the most rational and sensible of Tories and certainly more Liberal than his Labour predecessors Jack Straw and Charlie Faulkner. Ironically Miliband's call for his resignation has probably saved Clark's job, as Steve Richards points out in the Independent.


toffee man said...

What stops you from spelling the surname of the Justice Sec correctly?

David Kessler Author said...

How seriously does Ken Clark really regard rape given that he proposes to increase the reduction in sentence for an early plea of guilty from a third to a half? Is there any reason for regarding one third as insufficient?

I can think of only one circumstance in which there MIGHT be grounds for such a large reduction. If the rapist walks into the police station of his own free will before he has been identified as the rapist and confesses and further has not committed any other rapes, then he might qualify for such a generous reduction of sentence.

Aside from that, there is if anything a case for increasing the sentences for rape - or at least for reminding the judiciary of the guidelines. Steven Barker, the man from the Baby Peter case who also persistently raped a two-year old girl was sentenced to only ten years despite the fact that the sentences guidelines call for 13-19 years (starting point 15) for multiple rape of the same victim, with the extremely young age and abuse of position of trust as further aggravating factors.

David said...

@tm and dka Sorry, I took so long to approve your comments. Blogger failed to let me in for several days and then I was away.

@toffee man: Ignorance,old man, pure ignorance. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

@David Kessler Author:I listened to Clarke's interviews on that day. The proposal was for all crimes. He was challenged on rape and pointed out differing degrees of seriousness, specifically citing the case of statutory rape between a 17 year old and a 15 year old. He was making no judgement about what the headline sentence for rape should be. The suggestion which was put out to consultation of up to 50% discount, he explained, would apply to immediate confession on arrest rather than pleas of not guilty at the last moment. He added that currently men charged with rape often maintain their innocence up to the day of the trial as this increases the chance that the victim will withdraw from giving evidence because of the ordeal this can be. The example you give demonstrates only too clearly how one rape can be more serious than another, the very point which Clarke was pilloried for making.