An active member of the Royal Navy, who took legal action against the Defense Department after his rape case failed, supported calls for serious crimes to be investigated and be tried by civilian courts rather than the military system.
The woman, known as Servicewoman A, called on the government to agree to an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill, which she said will “encourage more women to come forward” and protect them from “appalling consequences” reporting rape within their unit. .
The House of Lords amended the Armed Forces Bill to ensure that the most serious crimes – murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, child abuse and rape – are tried in civilian courts when they are committed in Canada. United Kingdom, unless the Attorney General has expressly consented to such crimes. be tried before courts martial.
The government should reject these proposals.
Duty Woman A said a military prosecutor committed a series of misconduct during her rape case, including failing to inform her that she could testify by video link, delaying the submission of crucial documents until ‘on the day of trial and providing incorrect legal advice.
She expressed concerns about the quality of the military police in this case, the lack of care for survivors and the Navy’s response when it filed complaints.
She said, “The value of this amendment to women like me cannot be overstated. There were extremely serious shortcomings in the handling of my court martial file, which ultimately resulted in its collapse.
“This amendment will make the process independent. This will encourage more military personnel to report crimes. This means that we have some protection from the appalling consequences we suffer when we report rape within our units.
“I urge the government to accept this amendment. As military personnel, we are citizens of this country and we deserve justice like everyone else. “
A critical review of the military justice system was published in 2020 by retired Senior Crown Court Judge Shaun Lyons with assistance from Sir Jon Murphy, the former Merseyside Police Chief.
Its first recommendation was that “the jurisdiction of court martial should no longer include murder, manslaughter and rape when these offenses are committed in the UK, except where the consent of the Attorney General is given”.
Last year, Duty Woman A was one of three women who sought judicial review of the Defense Secretary’s decision to ignore the key recommendation of the Lyon exam. The case was settled out of court.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Defense show that between 2015 and 2020, the conviction rate for rape cases tried by courts martial was only 9%. The latest available data suggests the conviction rate was 59% for cases brought to civil courts, with many more cases being tried each year.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of sexual offenses in the military in 2020 took place in the UK, and more than three-quarters (76%) of victims were women.
Labor tabled a similar amendment to the Armed Forces Bill at report stage in July, which the government, including the Conservative Chairman of the Defense Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, and fellow committee member Sarah Atherton, did not argue.
Shadow Minister of the Armed Forces Stephen Morgan said: “Treating the most serious offenses in civilian courts would help improve investigations and conviction rates, but ministers appear to be content with a rig that will leave vulnerable staff. “
A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry said: “The government will not support the amendments to the Armed Forces Bill. “
The spokesperson added, “We are strengthening prosecutor protocols to provide much-needed clarity and transparency on how decisions on jurisdiction are made. “