The government needs to review the timescales when a victim can report an “historic” sexual crime, a leading criminal defence lawyer has said.
Nick Freeman made the call at the conclusion of the Dave Lee Travis trial, when the former Radio 1 DJ was found not guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court, of 12 counts of indecent assault dating between 1976 and 2002.
Last week, William Roache, the 81-year-old Coronation Street star, was acquitted of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault, all of which were alleged to have taken place four decades earlier.
The celebrity lawyer, commentator and author – who is a long time advocate of defendant anonymity in sex cases – said three years should be the maximum period for a report to be made.
This, he said, brings these allegations on a parity basis with personal injury claims in a civil court.
In relation to children, he added the three year rule would commence when they reached the age of 17.
Mr Freeman said: “We now live in era where there is a massive support system for victims of these heinous crimes, which is in stark contrast to the system that previously existed.
“Unless there are very cogent reasons, ie someone is held a prisoner, these allegations should be reported to the police within three years of them occurring.
“This will provide a fairer system to both complainant and defendants, and it will be easier for the Crown Prosecution Service to accurately access if there would be a 50 per cent chance of a conviction.”
Mr Freeman added: “In my mind there is no doubt that some of these anachronistic prosecutions have been brought because of the ‘sins of Savile’.
“He should have been investigated and prosecuted many years ago, and no amount of historic prosecutions against others will right that wrong.
“The times have changed when many of these alleged crimes are said to have taken place. What was acceptable then is not now, and bringing these prosecutions is a highly complex issue.”
For Further Information, please contact:
Nick Freeman, Freeman & Co, on 0161 236 7007
David Simister, Different PR, on 0845 389 26 26 / 07870 550 760