Rotherham MP challenges government on sex abuse testimony in court hearings

Rotherham MP challenges government on sex abuse testimony in court hearings

By Chris Brayford | 16/06/2022

Rotherham MP challenges government on sex abuse testimony in court hearings
The Rotherham MP says sex abuse victims are choosing between "justice or their mental health"

MP SARAH Champion has challenged the government to “rethink” a policy which could make sexual abuse victims choose between “justice or their mental health”.

She questioned PM Boris Johnson about Attorney General Suella Braverman’s plans to allow counselling notes to be used as testimony in court hearings. 

The MP said it was an issue that was “invasive” and “harmful” to people’s mental health.

“Mental health support is vital for victims of sexual crimes,” said Ms Champion.

“When a Rotherham survivor, who is here today, reported her childhood abuse to the police, they told her not to go for counselling as it could be used against her in court. 

“Your Attorney General, Prime Minister, is changing the rules to make it even easier for defence teams to access victims’ counselling notes, which has an immediate chilling effect. 

“Survivors should not be forced to choose between their mental health and justice. Prime Minister, please stop this.”

The PM responded by stating sexual abuse cases were “delicate” but said they were seeing “progress” on prosecutions.

Mr Johnson said: “I am very interested to hear what the honorable lady says, and I will look at the evidence that she has. 

“These are very sensitive and difficult issues, particularly with regard to defence cases. 

“But if she looks at what is happening on rape and serious sexual offences, where we have had similar problems, she will see that we are gradually starting to see an improvement in the prosecution rates. 

“That is because departments across Whitehall are working together to take account of victims’ needs. 

“I agree that the progress is not everything that I would like, but we are seeing progress.”