Letter: Civil rape cases blog a ‘gross misrepresentation’ of legal regime

In response to a blog in SLN yesterday giving the author’s opinions on a recent damages case that followed a criminal rape case, three solicitors have responded with their criticisms.

On reading the inflammatory and often inaccurate blog piece entitled ‘Blog: Do civil rape cases mark ‘destruction of justice?’ published in Tuesday’s Scottish Legal News, we felt the need to respond.

The first issue we noted was to the Scottish Legal News, who we feel should not have listed this article under ‘latest news’ and instead should have made it clearer that this piece is the opinion of one man.

Whilst we are all lawyers, we work in very different fields and so are by no means experts on this topic.

We disagree wholeheartedly with the author’s opinion on the topic, but thought it more worthwhile to highlight factual inaccuracies in the blog itself, rather than speaking solely to our difference of opinion:

  1. The court which David Goodwillie was taken to in a similar case in 2017 was indeed a court, not a ‘court’;
  2. Steven Coxen was not put on trial for the same act a second time. In the criminal case brought by the crown, the verdict was not proven. In the civil case brought by Ms M, Steven Coxen was ordered to pay damages. These are two different cases in two different courts seeking two different remedies. We are at least pleased to note that the author agrees that ‘technically, they (we) have a point.’
  3. The author refers repeatedly to a ‘guilty verdict’, but fails to note that Steven Coxen has not been convicted of rape nor judged criminally guilty of this crime and is indeed not in prison. Although we can of course not speak for Ms M, we imagine that many rape victims would prefer the guilt of their rapists to be proven in a way which sees them punished appropriately, rather than being left with a financial remedy as the only resort. Rape victims themselves are punished through a lifetime of reliving their ordeal, as well as many other potential side effects.
  4. The author’s assertion that “What we are now witnessing is the Scottish justice system, the state and the government all pushing to convict men of rape” is not only a gross misrepresentation but also, given rape conviction rates in Scotland, patently untrue.

We have not sought to highlight the aspects of the author’s article and conclusions which we find offensive. To do so would take too long.

Scattered as it is with inaccuracies and untruths, this article renders itself irrelevant before we even begin.

Mairi Queen, Katie Barr and Chloe McGuigan