Rape Trials and Sexual History Evidence: Reforming the Law on Third-Party Evidence

Author: 

Clare McGlynn, Nicole Westmarland

Publication date: 

8th Sep 2017

Despite repeated legislative attempts to restrict the use of sexual history evidence in rape trials, it continues to be admitted in many cases, causing considerable debate and leading to further attempts to reform the law. In this light, this article examines afresh the admissibility of sexual history evidence in rape trials. It focuses particularly on evidence relating to persons other than the accused (third-party evidence), following the recent controversial judgment of the Court of Appeal in R v Ched Evans where such evidence was introduced. The justifications for restricting sexual history evidence are considered, as well as research data on how often it is being used. Following an analysis of the current law, the article concludes that urgent reform is needed and a number of law reform options are examined.

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