Exaro News Archive

Tom Watson asks DPP to review rape claim against ex-minister

MP accuses police of acting wrongly by failing to put Jane’s claims to alleged attacker

By David Hencke and Mark Conrad | 17 May 2014

Tom Watson asks DPP to review rape claim against ex-ministerLabour MP Tom Watson has written to the director of public prosecutions to ask that she reviews rape allegations against a former cabinet minister.

In what Exaro understands is a strongly-worded letter, Watson expresses his belief that the police acted wrongly in the case of the woman – known as “Jane” to protect her identity – who alleges that the ex-minister raped her before he became a politician.

Watson’s intervention will unsettle the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) because he was the MP who first raised claims in Parliament of sexual abuse by leading political figures in the wake of the exposure in 2012 of Jimmy Savile, the late BBC star, as a paedophile.

The letter comes as, in a joint investigation with the Sunday People, Exaro reveals Jane’s story of how the ex-minister, before he became an MP, tricked her into his flat, locked her in, then raped her. She was then a 19-year-old student.

She gives a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the alleged attack, and of how Scotland Yard decided against questioning the former Conservative minister about her claims.

Jane reveals how officers told her that the case was being dropped because she had failed to make it clear enough to her alleged attacker that she did not consent to have sex with him.

Accompanied by her partner, Jane confronted the officer in charge of the investigation in a stormy meeting in February.

She and her partner told how the detective chief inspector confirmed to her that he had taken the decision not to proceed with the case.

The Met’s paedophile unit investigated the case under ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which was already looking into claims that the same ex-minister had sexually abused boys. It sprang out of ‘Operation Fairbank’, which scoped an array of allegations against politicians and other VIPs.

In his letter to the DPP, Alison Saunders, Watson accuses police of failing to follow proper procedures for handling rape claims by not putting them to the alleged attacker. “The elements of lack of freedom and capacity to consent,” he says, “make the decision highly irregular.”

Watson also questions whether the police are seriously pursuing the ex-minister, who has been under investigation for well over a year.

We are identifying neither the alleged victim nor the ex-minister for legal reasons.

The MP told Exaro: “I have met the person making the rape allegations twice. She gave a very detailed account of a very traumatic episode in her earlier life.”

“I have asked the DPP urgently to review this case because, from what I have heard, she did not consent to sex with the alleged perpetrator.”

“I find her a very credible witness.”

The police had “failed to follow their own guidelines” by not interviewing the ex-minister.

The DPP’s predecessor, Keir Starmer, has talked of the need for a “radical shift in attitude and approach” to victims of sexual abuse.

Too often, Starmer said, police or CPS decisions on whether to proceed with investigations are based on “crude” tests, such as whether victims approached the police at the time of the crime.

Jane told Exaro: “I am really pleased that Tom Watson has been able to deal with the issue in this way. My hope is that the matter, the investigation, will now be dealt with more fully.”

She said: “My feelings are that I have been brutally misled having been encouraged by the DPP statements to come forward with my historical case following the Savile affair.”

At her meeting with the DCI, Jane pressed for a letter from the Met confirming that it had decided to drop the case.

According to Jane and her partner, the DCI reluctantly agreed. The officer said that the letter could only be brief, stating that the Met was not proceeding with the case because it failed to meet the evidence threshold.

Jane revealed that, three months later, she is still waiting for the Met’s letter.

Exaro put a series of questions to the Met about its handling of Jane’s case. A spokesman for the force issued a one-line response: “All matters under Operation Fairbank remain under consistent review, and we will not be discussing further at this stage.”

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

By Exaro News

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