Thursday, April 10, 2014

Evans Above

Nigel Evans MP has been cleared by a jury in the latest celebrity sexual misconduct trial. So be it; that is what juries are for (although as I have said before, there may be a trend emerging of juries deciding that enough is enough of a certain type of trial).

Nevertheless, I cannot feel comfortable about police and CPS staff making carefully-worded comments on the courthouse steps to the effect that 'we considered it all carefully' and suchlike. If the jury says no, then no it is and no it stays. Nobody should go behind that.


  1. I get what you're saying, but there seems to be a growing movement every time someone is found not guilty by a jury to proclaim that this proves the case should never have gone to court. I think it's fair enough for the police/CPS to clarify in response that they felt there was evidence worth testing in front of a jury.

  2. Like ruudboy, I too have some sympathy, despite also disliking such post-trial pronouncements.
    Equally distateful to me have been the comments of politicians lining up to criticise part of their own civil service. While I no longer expect any government to defend the civil service for which it is responsable, I find it disheartening that all the CPS, police and parliamentary efforts to take allegations of sexual offences seriously in recent years should be undermined as soon as an MP suffers the consequences. Perhaps all MPs should be given lessons in constitutional responsibility on their entry into Parliament.
    That there will acquittals in cases in which the authorities decided it was appropriate to go ahead is an inevitable part of the adversarial system, and indeed one of its strengths. There will always be dispute over whether it is right to proceed in any particular case and CPS lawyers and counsel no doubt spend many hours considering those decisions, with greater knowledge of the evidence as it appears at that stage than many of those who comment afterwards. While appreciating the intense suffering which may caused by any allegation, I would not wish to live with a system in which only the strongest of cases were ever taken to trial.

  3. If the press is to be believed (yes, I know...), then this one has prior, legal-standard evidence to the effect that so-called victims did not consider themselves to be so. If that is the case, then the net result is that the CPS and Lancashire Police has victimised an innocent man. In the medicine profession it is 'Primum no nocere', but evidently not in the legal professions.

  4. Bowstreetrunner11 April 2014 at 11:15

    I do think there is something worrying with all these cases.
    It seems to be in vouge these days to believe without question what an alleged victim says, when we all know that lifwe is not so straightforward. Witnesses and victims time and time again when put to the test come out with the most incredible stories- or in otherwords lies. Grudges and revenge feature in cases quite a lot. At one time case like these would never have got off the ground as a proper view would be taken on the reliability of the evidence. That was one of the reasons the CPS was set up, which was to stop giving a case"a run" and see what the jury makes of it. Letting cases like this proceed is the easy option when really good prosecuting would stop these in their tracks.

    I'm all for supporting those who have been the real vistims of a crime but some of the allegations here were so weak and only a prurient view of life could have made out any possibility of an offence. Matters were made worse by the alleged victims not wanting any prosecution to happen. It seems they were manoevered into giving evidence and the whole thing unravelled.

    Keir Starmer's suggestions that judges should get involved in cross examination is also bonkers. The truth is there are hard cases where the evidecne just does not support the case. Rather than trying to manipulate the process so weak cases can succeed, cases that are weak should not be brought. That would be justice!!!!!!!

    Thank God for sensible juries.

    1. >>It seems to be in vouge these days to believe without question what an alleged victim says

      The larger problem is that for many years the vogue has been to disbelieve anything a victim said and to proactively minimise the impact of the incident on the criminal justice system. That the pendulum has swung back is a good thing.

      In this case, two complainants went and made a credible allegation to the police. What were they supposed to do?

  5. The CPS seem to have gone mad on this case. They appointed Senior Treasury Counsel (normally reserved for murder and terrorism) and went back 10 years trying to find mud to throw at Mr Evans in the hope that evidential quantity would make up for a lack of quality. When even the "victims" are saying no crime you know the case should not have come to court.

    Mr Evans had to spend his own money on a QC because his legal aid did not run to that and without which there would have been no equality of arms and possibly a different outcome.

    In recent years the CPS have taken to crowing on TV about their success stories in a most undignified American fashion. Of course in this case they are nowhere to be seen. They need to get a whole lot less macho and stop trying to build themselves big reps. The inappropriateness of what they did to Mr Evans is now threatening the service as a whole.

    1. But if even Senior TC thinks the case has a realistic prospect of resulting in a conviction, what is the CPS to do? Ignore his advice? Or is it being suggested that Senior TC either has also "gone mad" or is just in it for the money, and has ignored his professional duties? Hardly. And what of the judge who allowed the case to go beyond half time?
      Hindsight is wonderful.

  6. Hmmm, but if Mr Evans had been a police officer no doubt he would have also been charged with misconduct in public office. Additionally he would now be appearing before a misconduct tribunal, on the same evidence, and would more than likely be sacked. But, despite many people being judged on todays standards for what happens years ago it takes an honourable Member of Parliament to be troubled by the police and courts to get the debate moving.


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