Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Former magistrate cleared of rape sues his accuser for £300,000

Interesting case here of someone falsely accused, attempting to sue his accuser. The novelty is, he is suing her for malicious prosecution, which is usually used against law enforcement.

It is a novel approach. And it makes sense. Without the false accuser's malicious accusation (and how can any false rape accusation not be considered malicious?) then there can be nothing for law enforcement to pursue 'maliciously'.

Can anyone translate what 'conviction was held unsafe' means?

Former magistrate cleared of rape sues his accuser for £300,000.

A former magistrate cleared of rape has launched a landmark legal claim for £300,000 damages against his accuser.

Anthony Hunt, 66, was jailed in 2003 for after a jury found him guilty of raping a woman in her home after they both attended a flower show.

He spent nearly two years on a prison sex offender's wing before his conviction was overturned.

Now in a legal first, Mr Hunt wants to 'vindicate his reputation' by bringing a claim of malicious prosecution against the woman who alleged rape.

Critics say that if the bid succeeds, it could have far-reaching consequences as to whether rape gets reported to the police.

They argue it will deter rape complainants from giving evidence - out of fear they may be sued if their alleged attackers are found not guilty.

Mark Warby QC, representing Mr Hunt, however, said the move offered a vital legal remedy to those wrongly accused of rape.

Mr Warby said: 'It is 14 years ago to the day that my client had sex with the defendant with her consent at her home at the age of 52.

'It was nearly seven years afterwards that he was arrested and first learned of her allegation of rape.

'He was prosecuted and, on a majority verdict, convicted, but his conviction was held unsafe by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and was quashed.'

'He's brought this action to vindicate himself, not only because the conviction was unsafe.

'It was a miscarriage of justice and he is suing his accuser for damages.'

Mr Hunt - who was jailed for four years - did not face a retrial as he had served 23 months and 18 days of his sentence in prison - nearly the full amount required before release.

His conviction was overturned after the Appeal Court ruled the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

Claims of malicious prosecution are normally brought against public bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service which prosecute in the vast majority of cases.

But Mr Hunt argued that, by giving a witness statement to Hampshire constabulary in May 2002, Mr Hunt's accuser was effectively responsible for the prosecution - and should stand trial in a civil court.

The argument was rejected last year at the High Court, but now three Law Lords at the Appeal Court are deciding whether to give the go-ahead to a trial for malicious prosecution.

Mr Warby told Lords Justices Sedley, Wall and Moore-Bick that Mr Hunt was entitled to a fair trial of the issues - whether AB effectively brought the prosecution - and whether she lied.

He argued that Mr Justice Blake in the High Court had wrongly ruled against Mr Hunt by taking into account 'public policy' issues - that the 'floodgates would open' if those cleared of rape could bring malicious prosecution cases against their accusers.

Mr Justice Blake also wrong considered whether rape was actually committed which Mr Warby said was a matter for a jury rather than a High Court judge.

But Roger ter Haar, for AB, said: 'On the one hand if Mr Hunt's story is true, he has been subject to an enormous injustice.

'He's been to prision in circumstances where he should not have been.

'On the other hand, from my client's point of view, she's not only been the victim of rape, and had to deal with the psychological consequences of that, but she has also had to deal with the police investigation, which in the circumstances of this case cannot have been easy.'

Mr Ter Haar added that if the judges were to find in Mr Hunt's favour 'It would be a massive in road into the principle of witness immunity.

'In any case where it is one person's word against the other, witness immunity will be removed.'

At Mr Hunt's Winchester Crown Court trial for rape, jurors heard that the complainant, a special constable, had invited him into her home for a cup of tea after the Fordingbridge Show in 1995.

Mr Hunt, whose civilian job was as a senior traffic warden, claimed he could not have raped his accuser as his manhood was 'abnormally small' and he could only have had sex with consent.
But the jury convicted him by a majority of 10-2.

The court heard that Mr Hunt's wife, Lynn, had suffered acute embarrassment working at her antique shop near the couple's home in Blandford St Mary, Dorset.

The case, listed for two days, will continue on Friday.

Link:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1199909/Man-cleared-rape-sues-accuser-300-000.html