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Juries and Stories (2)

5/10/2018

 

Further to my last post on this, there is one story I want to explore a bit more; and that is Believe Women. My suspicion is that this may have been (at least in this case) an unhelpful story.  It seemed to me (and other jurors) that the CPS had not done as much work as they might have done on this case.  There were other people we would have expected to hear as witnesses, and their absence troubled us.  I wonder if the Believe Women story was influential here; and that could have been in one of two (at least) ways.

 

On the one hand, if the police and CPS start with the idea 'Believe Women' it may be that they feel less need to gather all the evidential proof that is possible. Looking at the issue from that perspective may make it seem more obvious to them than it did to the jurors that the case was proven.

 

Or secondly, they may make assumptions about the jury's propensity to 'Believe Women' - with the same net result.  In either case, if that were what happened, the 'Believe Women' story had a very negative outcome for one woman who really needed people to believe in her. 

 

As you may have gathered, I remain uneasy about this trial, and the verdict we reached. We may have acquitted a rapist and abuser.  But I am also clear that the only thing that would have allowed us, morally and legally, to find him guilty as charged would have been for the case to be proved beyond reasonable doubt; and it was not.  'Believe Women' was not a story we could subscribe to outwith that criterion; and if it caused the CPS or police to relax in their putting together the case for the prosecution, then the story did grave harm, to women and to justice.

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