12 January 2019
Rape victims are dropping allegations over fears defence lawyers will use personal information on their phones against them, the solictor who took on John Worboys has warned.
Harriet Wistrich, who successfully represented two rape victims in a landmark judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys, told The Telegraph that in some areas police are demanding “almost unlimited” access to the mobile phones of victims and other data before pressing ahead with cases.
She said: “There is evidence that there’s a real problem with rape victims, including teenagers, being told to hand over their phones.
“We are hearing from rape crisis groups that women are refusing to do this as they fear police go right back through all their messages and data, practically to birth.”
Ms Wistrich, a solicitor at Birnberg Peirce and founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice, said that in some cases complainants are being asked to reveal details of their health, school and sensitive counselling records, as well as the data from all their electronic devices.
She said there was a real concern over the way private material is collected by police, often through the use of documents known as Stafford statements, and then made available to prosecutors and defence lawyers. “The use of Stafford statements is effectively putting the victims on trial,” she said.
Read full article here