Rape complainers who refuse to give evidence could be jailed in exceptional circumstances

Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC

Rape complainers who refuse to give evidence could be jailed in “exceptional circumstances”, according to guidelines from the Crown Office.

Reluctant complainers in rape cases or other sexual offence cases can be compelled to testify.

The potential punishment came to light following a question from SNP MSP Christine McKelvie, who sought for assurances that complainers would not face prison if they ignored witness warrants.

Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC could not guarantee they would never be sent to prison for failing to give evidence against defendants.

Ms Di Rollo said: “We can never exclude the possibility that there could be circumstances where a witness warrant might be sought if a complainer refused to attend at court when lawfully cited.

“Whilst we accept that, we expect this would and could only arise in the most exceptional circumstances.”

The Solicitor General told MSPs she and the Lord Advocate had met with Rape Crisis Scotland to explain how the policy will operate in practice.

“We confirmed that the focus of the Crown’s revised policy is not compelling rape complainers to testify,” she said.

“The focus is to ensure that the burden of prosecutorial decision-making lies properly with the Crown and to ensure that decisions are made after the most careful consideration of all the relevant circumstances.”

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