Exaro News Archive

Ex-flatmates support ‘Jane’ over rape claim against Leon Brittan

Two friends come forward to deny media reports of ‘contradicting’ complainant to Met

By Mark Conrad | 27 November 2015

Ex-flatmates support ‘Jane’ over rape claim against Leon BrittanFriends of a woman allegedly raped by the late Lord Brittan in 1967 have denied media reports that they “contradicted” her account to police.

Two women who decades ago shared their flat in north London with the complainant, known as “Jane” to protect her identity, came forward to Exaro out of anger about mis-reporting of the case by other media.

Both flatmates said that they had corroborated parts of the account given by Jane, although they were not present when the alleged attack took place.

One ex-flatmate even told detectives that she had returned home one day during the summer of 1967, when Jane claims that the rape took place, to find her “distraught” inside their flat. But Jane would not say why she was so upset.

“I cannot recall the exact date, but I remember the incident. I just wish I had spent more time talking to her about it,” the ex-flatmate told Exaro.

“Mind you, even if she had told me at the time, I would not have recommended that she spoke to the police. Back then, women were often treated badly when they reported rape.”

According to Jane, Brittan raped her after duping her into a flat when they met for a blind date. Jane said that Brittan had previously spotted her at a crowded party in west London.

Brittan was then working as a barrister, before becoming an MP and later home secretary. Brittan died in January, aged 75.

Exaro understands that detectives, working on ‘Operation Vincente’, confirmed that the man who hosted the party knew Brittan professionally, but could not recall whether he was there.

The flatmates’ accounts contrast starkly with claims made last month by BBC1’s Panorama, which tried to dismiss allegations by Jane and other abuse survivors who had made allegations against VIPs.

Panorama claimed: “All the people Jane said could corroborate a key part of her story contradicted it.”

David Aaronovitch echoed the claim in The Times, writing: “Friends of hers who she said could corroborate parts of her story flatly contradicted it.”

But the flatmates, who must remain anonymous to protect Jane’s identity, say that Panorama and Aaronovitch were wrong.

The first flatmate, a retired professional, told detectives that she took Jane to several parties, “most likely” including the one in west London.

“I was able to confirm much of the background of her story, but after so many years there were many things that I could not recall. I never doubted that she was telling the truth,” said the former flatmate.

“I was incensed to read David Aaronovitch’s article in The Times saying that her friends had ‘flatly contradicted’ her story. These friends could only have been us, and this is totally untrue.”

The ex-flatmate also criticised other media reports that Jane’s rape claim was “false”. “I strongly object to the Press references to ‘false’ rape allegations when they are unproven,” she said. Talking about Jane, she continued: “She was a very sweet, naive and vulnerable girl who looked far younger than her years. Sadly what Jane says happened to her happened to a great many young women.

“Few have had the courage to come forward. Having seen the way that sections of the Press have treated Jane, this is hardly surprising.

“Many people who hardly knew Leon Brittan are rushing to his defence. I would ask them to consider what they really know about this case.”

The second ex-flatmate, also a retired professional, said of Jane’s claim: “Unless her life has changed completely and utterly since, I cannot see that she would have made that allegation just out of the blue. It has never occurred to me that it was not true. But I was not there, and I do not remember her ever saying anything about it.”

She continued: “I certainly did not contradict what Jane was saying. I fully believe that this probably happened. I think it is very unfair for her to hear the claim that we had contradicted her and that she was not a plausible witness.”

Brittan denied the rape claim. The Metropolitan Police Service closed the investigation in April after being unable to establish whether Jane’s allegation against him was true.

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By Exaro News

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.