Stephen Farry: We cannot allow victims to feel re-traumatised in the pursuit of justice

Letters
Letters

I am calling for a review of the policy and practice of how the criminal justice system handles alleged sexual crimes, following the conclusion of the trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of raping a woman at a house in Belfast in 2016. Jackson was also acquitted of a further charge of sexual assault, while two other men were also found not guilty on related charges.

This has been a very high profile case within an intense public spotlight, which has highlighted a wide range of issues relating to the policy and practice of how the criminal justice system handles sexual crimes, including rape.

It is crucial the system works for potential victims and the interests of justice are maintained.

In particular, it is important alleged victims have sufficient encouragement to seek justice and have confidence in the system to do so.

We cannot allow alleged victims to feel re-traumatised in the pursuit of justice.

Compared to other types of crime, more attention tends to fall on the actions and comments of complainants, and the criminal justice system needs to ensure the right approach is found, focusing on the relevant issues while preserving the integrity of justice.

Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Alliance Party deputy leader