Pubic Interest

Anthony McIntyre feels the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service have some explaining to do for ever having initiated the Belfast Rape Trial.

With the Belfast Rape Trial having reached a very definitive conclusion, the verdict has acted as an irritant rather than a balm. The polarising effect has left a chasm. People took their sides early and vociferously. Online commentary seemed to veer between Rugby Rapists' Foul Play to Porn Star in Rugby Trial. Prejudice was the occasion for venom: reason trumped by rabidity.

People, ostensibly free to believe whatever they want, are not obliged to share the opinion of the jury, and many have dissented from it, by proclaiming I Stand With Her, an endorsement of the position of the young woman whose evidence the jury rejected. From what I gleaned from the trial the jury reached the only safe verdict. That doses not mean that the young woman was lying but that her testimony was insufficient to reach the threshold for conviction.

It is impossible for me to say with any degree of certainty who was telling the truth but as a firm believer in trial by jury as a bulwark against judicial arbitrariness and state usurpation of societal and individual rights, I can find no compelling reason to dissent from the jury’s verdict. Little point in demanding trial by jury only to howl when the verdict is not what we might have preferred. I had no preference other than the returning of a correct verdict.

The real perpetrator in this case was the combined forces of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Public Prosecution Service, who between them in terms of assessing what was possible seem not to have 'a sixpence of an idea to fumble for'. How this case ever came to trial remains a mystery. I commented to my wife and others during court proceedings that there was not an altar boy’s chance in a priest's house of the Prosecution getting this one across the line. The evidence was simply not there in sufficient quantity to merit a conviction. Yet for their own institutional gratification, the PSNI and PPS persisted on their dash down the glory trail hoping that the windfall from a celebrity circus would fall on them. It has, right on top of their dunder heads. Not only did they put four young men in a dock which the quartet would as surely walk away from vindicated, they also failed in their care to the young woman they put in the witness box for eight days of gruelling cross examination. She did her best. They did not.

There was no public interest that merited this prosecution. Public interest in following a case and 'the public interest' are not synonymous concepts. The pubic is invariably a magnet for the public, and here it was no different. The Trials and Titillation of scandal.

The public interest has to be the protection of women from rape in all circumstances. Rape convictions are hard enough to secure without setting another rape trial up to fail. Whether the young woman at the centre of the Belfast Rape trial was a rape victim or not we cannot be certain in a way that we can about the existence of many rape victims out there who will never set foot in a court as a result of this trial. The celebrity nature of the trail coupled with the insufficient weight of the Prosecution evidence had 'Destination Failure' stamped all over it. Daunting and deterring enough for a rape victim to endure even a successful trial, the experience must be grossly amplified when the outcome is acquittal.

The PSNI and PPS between them, swaggered into court with eyes wide shut. Big hat no cattle.

Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.

Follow Anthony McIntyre on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre      

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

13 comments to ''Pubic Interest"


  1. Dear Anthony
    I have been reading The Pensive Quill for several years but have only posted one request.
    I would like to post a review of the recent BBC documentary "The Funeral Murders", as I felt it left a lot of issues unaddressed.
    If your response is positive I will start working on it immediately.
    Sorry for sending request under the above post but was unsure of e-mail address
    I eagerly await your reply,meantime please keep your great site going strong.
    Kind Regards JBC.

  2. Anthony,

    A case where once again the law, or at least those who we entrust to administer it are displayed as the proverbial ass. A circus where the PPS alone deserve all of the credit.

  3. AM
    I agree with you that this shouldn't have got to court, however I think you should have mentioned that if the details had leaked then people would have slaughtered the PSNI for not pursuing celebrities. It was a "damned if I do and damned if I don't" scenario which they got wrong.

  4. Food for thought as always from AM. The PSNI haven't had the best profile of late (with this and the utterly absurd/insidious Ellie Evans case) and this has further compounded the view that they are all show but no substance.

    For me, this case wasn't a million miles away from the infamous Tawana Brawley case 30 years ago. Both polarised already deeply divided societies and people made up their mind what side they were on, sometimes without consulting all the facts. However, as a sign of the times, this case was much murkier due to the issue of consent: how do you judge such a thing when no one explicitly says "yes", "no" or makes physical motions pushing or pulling someone away/forward?

  5. As perspicacious as ever AM.

    One has to ponder was there a disgruntled parent in the Public Prosecutors Office? Was little Jeremy dropped from the first team yet again?

    How come the implications of less than supportive testimony from an independent female witness wasn't fully factored for before issuing proceedings?

    These guys and gals in the prosecutors office need to account for their poor decisions.

  6. On balance, this case should never have come to trial but the Whats App messages given in evidence revealed the two rugby players to be utter arseholes.

  7. It smacked of grandstanding by the cops and the pps. The evidence for the prosecution was less plausible than the defence however. It was a race to the bottom for all involved with the sorry affair.

  8. Thanks to all for the comments.

    Robert, good to see you are still reading TPQ

    Peter, while true, because I did not think that was the determining factor I saw no reason to mention it. Public interest not public opinion should decide these matters.

    Christopher, the Pastor McConnell case also. They make a hames of so much.

    Henry Joy, the type of things many are pondering if not saying out loud.

    Barry, if utter assholes were to be tried there would be nobody to hear the case or sit on the jury. people who work in a very male environment and culture are see and hear this type of thing all day ... and from people who detest rapists. Laddism, as they call it, is often posturing by men who might be meek in the house, insisting on the last word: 'yes love'! I think we should be concerned about private messages which demonstrated nothing of evidential value being put in the public domain. It seemed a desperate attempt by the state to bolster a weak case. Yeah, it was evidence of people being dicks but they were not on trial for being dicks.

  9. AM

    I do not disagree at all but this case has for me disturbing echoes of the Ched Evans case. Objectification of by young men whose sporting endowments and accompanying "wow wow" adulatory auras give them this sense of entitlement to women's bodies. Never forget what the poor woman has had to go through in this case with her sex life being dissected for all to titallate over. The beautiful games, eh?

  10. What seemed odd from the very beginning about this case is that the case initially appeared to be dropped and then two months or so later they were charged....I couldn't understand that? What happened to change their minds to proceed with a prosecution? The signal that this case really sends out is for rape victims, seeks justice through other means rather than through the judicial route......

    But your are right AM, they have been found not guilty....that doesn't mean they're innocent though....Having said all that, the 4 lads are ideal role models for kids who play shaggers mate!

  11. Barry,

    this is what annoys me about these cases. What a woman's sex life was prior to rape has no bearing on whether she consented or not. It should not even come up for discussion. A lot of people have a sense of entitlement well beyond the world of sports stars.


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