Justice and the Law

Row over Barrister’s blog about consent in rape cases entitled: ‘She was gagging for it.’

Screen shot for the purposes of quotation and public interest reporting

The Barrister Bard blog at http://www.david-osborne.com/blog/

A London barrister is involved in a row over a blog post he has written arguing that men accused of rape should be cleared if the accuser had been under the influence of drink or drugs.

The blog, purportedly belonging to barrister David Osborne, who has over 35 years experience in private practice,  criticises the way the legal system deals with rape allegations.

It was first published on 1st February.

The article says recent changes to the law regarding sexual assault have had ‘serious consequences for all red-bloodied males who are out on the rut’, and added that ‘consent is consent, blind drunk or otherwise’.

The post criticizes the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders for recent guidelines issued by the CPS regarding consent, asking ‘is it just me, or are women taking over the world?’

Ms Saunders had recently spoken at the National Rape Conference saying that:

For too long society has blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent – by drinking or dressing provocatively for example – but it is not they who are confused, it is society itself and we must challenge that. Consent to sexual activity is not a grey area – in law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely.

It is not a crime to drink, but it is a crime for a rapist to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex though drink.

Criticising the DPP, the barrister’s blog said:

I have always found it distasteful and unattractive the suggestion that as the victim was blind drunk she therefore unable to give her consent to sex, or more to the point, she gave her consent which she would not have given had she been sober.

The blog argues that ‘regret after the event cannot make it rape’.

The post was concluded with the statement:

If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped’, this provides the accused with a complete defence. End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!

The comments have drawn an angry reaction on social media.

Sarah Green, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, told the Daily Mirror:

I find it hard to believe this is not some kind of sick joke or a parody. It is ridiculous. He is suggesting the opposite of the law. […]

The justice system exists to punish and deter perpetrators.

When contacted by the Daily Mirror the newspaper quoted Mr Osborne as saying:

The whole thing is over slanted in favour of drunken victims and against lads who chance their arm. I don’t call them victims. I said that these are complainants. They are not victims because victims in my opinion are synonymous with people who have been taken advantage of.

I tell you what would drop the rape statistics would be if girls covered up, dressed appropriately and stopped drinking themselves legless.

The row over his blog post has generated considerable media coverage with news articles in the Independent, Huffington Post, Daily Mail , Sky News, ITV News, the Press Association, and other news publishers.

It’s reported Mr. Osborne was called to the English Bar in 1974, and to the Irish Bar in 1986.

He practices in London and Somerset.

He has a page at amazon.co.uk promoting his writing under the pseudonym ‘Toby Potts.’

It says:

Many years ago, David hit the headlines nationwide and made legal history when he delivered his final speech to the jury entirely in verse. He is pleased to report that his totally bemused client was gloriously acquitted, and for this “tour de force”, he was dubbed the Barrister Bard by the popular press.

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