‘Rape’ case decisions questioned


Published: Friday 7th November 2014 by The News Editor

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The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders is personally investigating the case of a woman who was prosecuted over an alleged false rape claim and then went on to kill herself.

Ms Saunders said she was “very saddened” by the tragic death of 23-year-old Eleanor de Freitas, and said she has asked those who worked on the case for a “full explanation”.

She described the case the young woman was involved in before her death as “one of the most difficult I have seen”.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the force received an allegation of rape in south west London on January 4 2013.

She added: “The allegation was investigated by specialist officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.

“One man was arrested but subsequently released with no further action due to lack of evidence, and the case was closed.”

In a statement, Ms Saunders said: “I am very saddened by the tragic death of Eleanor de Freitas.

“I have asked the team which dealt with this case for a full explanation which addresses all of the de Freitas family’s concerns.

“I appreciate the family’s unease which is why I am looking at this personally in order to satisfy myself of the detail surrounding all the stages of the case.

“Prosecuting cases of perverting the course of justice in connection with an alleged false rape allegation is rare, extremely difficult and always complex and sensitive.

“This case was one of the most difficult I have seen. To say any more at this stage would be inappropriate until I can answer the de Freitas family’s concerns fully and directly.”

She added: “I would welcome the opportunity then to meet with Eleanor’s family to discuss the case and the law surrounding it.”

An inquest into the death is reportedly due to open today but lawyers for the family are expected to call on the coroner to postpone the hearing in order to carry out a wider inquiry in front of a jury.

This wider inquiry would be to examine whether the CPS decision to prosecute was a contributing factor in her death, according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, Ms de Freitas’s father David told the newspaper his daughter was “a vulnerable young woman, diagnosed with bipolar, who made a complaint of rape as a result of which she herself became the subject of legal proceedings”.

He added: “This was despite the fact the police did not believe there to be a case against her.

“There are very serious implications for the reporting of rape cases if victims fear that they may themselves end up the subject of a prosecution if their evidence is in any way inconsistent. It is of the utmost importance that the CPS consider very carefully whether such cases are in the public interest.”

He said that “the system of fairness in this country has let me down terribly”, adding that something needs to be done so that this can never happen again.

Published: Friday 7th November 2014 by The News Editor

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