End aggressive questioning of sex victims: MP

Lisa Nandy
Lisa Nandy

WIGAN MP Lisa Nandy has told Britain’s top lawyer to stop the aggressive questioning of vulnerable victims and witnesses to sex crimes.

Ms Nandy spoke out during a Commons debate on the treatment of witnesses in the Oxfordshire paedophile ring case.

She told Solicitor General Oliver Heald witnesses and victims’ courtroom ordeals were partially to blame for low conviction rate for rape.

The Labour MP said: “Given the appalling cases that we have seen recently involving young victims and witnesses do you not agree with me that the damage done to those young people is far, far too high going through the court process?

“Do you not agree with me that there is a sense of urgency around this that simply cannot wait?”

“Young people should not be put through this appalling level of damage through the court process when they have already suffered such distress and harm.”

Mr Heald replied: “I do agree with that and I think it’s right to bear in mind that the legal profession, the judges, they are all concerned about this too, because it is wrong what’s been happening.

“I agree it’s a matter that is urgent.”

During the Oxfordshire trial one child sex exploitation victim was cross-examined by seven barristers every day for three weeks and another witness was repeatedly called a liar until she broke down in tears. Seven men were found guilty of a catalogue of sex offences over eight years.