Fury as Labour accuses Tories of ‘effectively decriminalising rape’ in ‘incredibly irresponsible’ tweet
- Tory chair Amanda Milling branded it ‘incredibly irresponsible’ misinformation
- Tweet highlighted low percentage of rape reports that result in a charge
- Post was published as the Government’s controversial Policing Bill was voted on
Labour was fiercely criticised last night after claiming Conservative ministers had ‘effectively decriminalised’ rape.
Tory MPs condemned the allegation as ‘dangerous fake news’ and accused the Opposition of trying to score ‘cheap political points’.
As MPs voted in favour of the Government’s controversial Policing Bill, Labour highlighted the low percentage of rape complaints that result in a criminal charge.
Sir Keir Starmer‘s party tweeted: ‘Under the Tories, rape has effectively been decriminalised. We need to do so much more to end violence against women and girls.’
Conservative Party chair Amanda Milling branded the post ‘incredibly irresponsible’, while colleagues suggested it could deter women from coming forward.
But Labour sources said it simply echoed the views of the Government’s own victims commissioner.
The post, published as the Government’s controversial Policing Bill passed its first Commons test, highlighted the low percentage of rape reports that result in a criminal charge
Tory MPs condemned the tweet, with party chair Amanda Milling branding it ‘incredibly irresponsible’ misinformation
Dehenna Davison, Tory MP for Bishop Auckland, said: ‘This is not just fake news – this is dangerous.
‘Has any thought been given to the fact this messaging in itself could discourage women from reporting rape and sexual assault?’
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, and chair of the Commons equality committee, said the claim was ‘untrue’.
Nimco Ali, the Government adviser on violence against women, accused Labour of trying to score ‘cheap political points’ and demanded whoever signed off the tweet to be sacked.
A Labour source hit back: ‘This quote is from the Conservative Government’s own appointed victims commissioner… If they think she is wrong, they should tell her.’
The report last year from Dame Vera Baird QC lamented the 3 per cent charge rate for rape complaints in 2019.
She said: ‘In effect, what we are witnessing is the decriminalisation of rape. In doing so, we are failing to give justice to thousands of complainants.’
Labour published the tweet minutes before MPs voted through the Government’s Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at its second reading.
The bill would make it easier for officers to combat non-violent protests which cause significant disruption to the public or hinder access to Parliament.
The wide-ranging legislation would also make the most serious offenders serve at least two-thirds of their prison sentences.
Tonight at just after 7pm, MPs voted 359 to 263, a majority of 96, at second reading, the first significant Commons test of a bill.
Labour voted against the bill, and shortly after the vote Sir Keir branded the Government’s priorities ‘completely wrong’.
He said: ‘The Conservatives have just voted for legislation to increase prison sentences for those damaging statues. But does nothing to address violence towards women and girls.’
The Policing Bill was part of the Conservative 2019 manifesto but elements raised eyebrows from MPs on the party’s libertarian wing.
The draft legislation includes an offence of ‘intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance’, and someone will be judged to have committed this crime if they cause ‘serious harm to the public’, which can include ‘serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity’, with those convicted potentially facing a fine or jail.
The ‘serious annoyance’ element of the criteria has prompted a furious backlash from critics who warn the laws could pose a threat to free speech rights and the right to protest.