"Rape Victims Are Having Their Justice Limited": London Victims' Commissioner
31 July 2019, 15:42 | Updated: 31 July 2019, 15:56
The London Victims' Commissioner tells Shelagh Fogarty how rape victims are lacking legal representation and calls for independent legal support to be provided.
Speaking to LBC presenter Shelagh Fogarty, the Victims' Commissioner Claire Waxman explained that rules around police access to personal data of rape victims should adhere to a "reasonable and proportionate line of enquiry" but that she believes these rules aren't necessarily being followed.
"Too many are having their phones requested and material that is not reasonable or proportionate," she said.
Ms Waxman spoke of one case where all material from the victim's phone had been downloaded without their knowledge.
She explained: "The defence used a photo of her smiling on the day of the attack and messages between her and her mother, none of which were actually relevant to the attack - the photo was actually several hours before the attack.
"Nobody stood up in court and countered that, she had no right to represent it, to put it into context or respond to it, and it really did affect the jurors."
When Shelagh asked why she had no right to respond, Ms Waxman said victims do not officially have legal representation
"No, that's where there is an imbalance of right - It's the state vs the defendant so that material often sits there in court and doesn't get argued properly.
She continued: "That's why i'm pushing for legal representation because if we're going to be scrutinising rape victims in this way, looking at their accounting records, their personal records, things that often are outside reasonable and proportionate lines of enquiry, then victims absolutely should have access to independent legal support to help them navigate that."