Because the police and prosecutors are under intense pressure from politicians and the media to bring cases against people accused of sex crimes no matter how old the allegation there is a very real risk that people, particularly men, will be prosecuted wrongly.

When somebody is accused of an historical offence, it is important to recognise that the law is different to the modern law. Parliament introduced the current law in 2003; however, most historical sexual offences will be prosecuted under laws enacted in the 1950s and often long before that. You should ensure that any solicitor you instruct is familiar with the old law and capable of dealing with a very different set of laws than exists today.

We have dealt with a lot of historical sexual allegations over the years – in fact we were dealing with the old law when it was still the current law! One particular case of ours highlights the dangers of historical sexual prosecutions. Our client was accused of multiple offences against his daughter ranging from when she was 10 years old until she was 33 years old, the oldest offence was some 40 years old at the time the prosecution was brought. Many of the allegations were extremely far-fetched but the prosecution proceeded nonetheless. Before the trial began we were able to convince the prosecutor that all of the allegations made after the complainant turned 16 were so far-fetched that they should not be proceeded with; however, the Crown insisted on proceeding on the offences alleged to have been committed when she was aged 10 to 15 years. At trial, we asserted that the complainant was a fantasist who had concocted the allegation following a dispute with her parents. The jury agreed, and our client was acquitted of all the charges against him.

Historical sexual allegations are often the word of one person against another’s but with the added problem for the defendant that the delay has rendered it impossible for him to provide an alibi or other evidence to counter the complaint. If you want to be acquitted it is imperative that you have experienced solicitors capable of dealing with these cases and able to ensure that you receive the very best defence available to you.

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