Ken Clarkes 50% sentence discounts

Vera appeared on the Today programme on the 18th of June and wrote this follow up to her comments on Ken Clarke’s proposed 50% sentence discounts.

Ken Clarke’s comments on rape were not “ a factual statement” that some rapes are more serious than others, as he pretended when doorstepped by TV cameras on Friday. Crimes vary in gravity, of course, but in his interview with Victoria Derbyshire he contrasted “classic rape” or “proper rape” which he described as a man jumping out of a bush and raping someone, with “date rape” for purposes of suggesting that a five

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Feminism in London Conference

Vera’s address to the seminar on: Feminism in violence against women policy The emergence of a feminist understanding, at first of the hidden crime of domestic violence, impacted hugely on policy on violence against women in the longer run.

• It was essentially the Refuge Movement that first counted the figures and demonstrated that DV was not something that was done by a few cruel and unusual men. • That violence in the home was as to more than 90%, by men on women • That its prevalence was astonishing

Until then, domestic violence was seen not only as

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DNA and Rape an article for Progress Online

Vera’s article written for progess online about the proposed destruction of DNA by the coalition. Also available on the Progress Online website.


Here we are again

The Coalition’s proposals to destroy DNA currently held on the national database will be disastrous for the future of rape convictions. They must reverse the policy as they did on their equally misconceived plans to give anonymity to defendants and to halve sentences for guilty pleas, in rape. They show overall a pitiful understanding of justice for women. That is not surprising from a government of millionaire men who have deliberately

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Covert Policing

Vera’s article written for Left Foot Forward on the covert policing of Mark Kennedy. Also available on the Left Foot Forward website

Failure to disclose evidence reminiscent of the dark days of miscarriages of justice

Policing climate change protesters by embedding undercover officer Mark Kennedy with them for seven years looks out of all proportion to the risk they present to the public. Crazier still and seemingly far more wicked is the subsequent attempt to convict many of them by suppressing the very intelligence Kennedy’s sleuthing had disclosed. Twenty six protesters were charged with conspiracy to occupy Ratcliffe

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Countering Lynn Featherstones equalities column

In Lynne Featherstone’s column of 18th November she described herself as someone who “spends every day fighting for equality”

She wasn’t last Tuesday when Fiona MacTaggart MP asked, in the Commons why her Coalition has scrapped the duty in the Equality Act 2010 for public authorities to assess the impact of their policies on the poor. This, in sections 1-3, is called “the socio-economic duty”

“This legislation is just words” Ms Featherstone told a startled House of Commons, saying how fully she supported the repeal.

Last year, in the passage of the Equality Act itself, Lynne Featherstone said:


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Bill of Rights – Solicitors Journal

Vera’s comment piece for the Solicitors Journal on the Human Right’s Commission. Also available to subscribers on the Solicitors Journal website.

Prepare for Battle The Coalition Government’s ” Independent Commission to investigate the case for a British Bill of Rights” is about politics not law. Backwoods Tories may bay for an end to Foreigners making us give rights to nasty people, but their majority comes from the Liberal party, which has demanded human rights since the days of Jo Grimond. This obliqueness of purpose grows clearer as one recalls that we have a perfectly good British Bill of Rights

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Abortion: Leaving well enough alone

What possible point could there be to Nadine Dorries legislative amendment excluding abortion clinics from ever giving advice to pregnant women if it isn’t to limit abortions?

In what many commentators have called a dishonest article in the Mail last week, Ms Dorries MP asserted that the point of her proposed change to the Health and Social Care Bill is that she supports a woman’s right to choose. Her opening paragraphs disclose the real reason by graphically describing a late abortion she alleges she witnessed.

How is this personal horror story relevant to an amendment on who should give

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No blanket sentencing: Comment is free 18th August

Also available on the Guardian website.

National revulsion and popular demand for punishment are dangerous things. They licensed the rule-bending that miscarried justice in the 80s, for the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four. In the miners’ strike, once Margaret Thatcher had called the NUM “the enemy within”,it was next to impossible to get them honestly policed or fairly tried.

How far from that danger re-emerging are we now when David Cameron asserts that everyone involved with rioting, however peripherally, No blanket sentencing: Comment is free 18th August

Huffington Post

What the House of Commons should discuss on the Riots: Article for Huffington Post website.

Available here

Men who Rape in their sleep: Sexomnia or another excuse

Historically, rape defences have sought to move the responsibility from men and to blame women, for instance for wearing the wrong clothes, having the wrong amount to drink or for not uttering the word “no” plainly enough. Relatively new is a defence that some men can be wholly without responsibility for sexual assaults because they may be unconscious and asleep while having sex. In at least four British cases, defendants have been acquitted of rape in this way and freed. These verdicts are arguably wrong in law. They are certainly a travesty for the women with whom they had

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