Following a report published on the Scottish Legal website in which a sheriff jailed a woman for 14 days for making a false accusation, they received the following response from a solicitor in private practice (who wished to remain anonymous).
I would like to make a formal response to this article, in particular the comments made by Scottish Labour’s Justice Spokeswoman, Claire Baker. I consider her comments to be an attempt to whitewash and undermine the devastating impact false allegations of domestic abuse can have on those individuals who fall victim to such false allegations.
As Sheriff Drummond QC said in the case of PF v Gayle Hunter and Elsie Hunter: “For anyone in any circumstances to a make a deliberately false complaint of criminal conduct against another person to the police is a truly wicked thing to do. To make such a complaint knowingly is to put into operation a course of events over which they have no control.
It is the public duty of the police to investigate complaints of criminal conduct and to report the result of their investigations to the Procurator Fiscal who will decide whether or not that conduct merits prosecution and, if appropriate to bring that allegation and the accused to court.
If prosecution follows it can, in the final analysis, result in the loss of liberty of the person complained against if the lie is persisted in.”
The operation of a course of events which the Sheriff alludes to above can have a truly devastating impact on someone subject to a false allegation involving domestic abuse. This is the result of policy protocols dictated by the Scottish government culminating in a formal Joint Protocol between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Police Scotland. It’s a policy which can be brutal, heavy-handed and take away a person’s liberty.
Typically, the police will act on an allegation of domestic abuse immediately and rush to locate the accused, apprehend him, detain him, place him in the back of a police car or van, deprive him of his liberty and take him to a police station where he will be deprived of his liberty, often for the remainder of the day. He will usually be forced to spend the night in a police cell and experience and be subjected to all that entails. Or, if it’s a Friday then he can expect to remain in the cell in police custody for the entire weekend. Then, depending on the circumstances, he might be arrested, charged and marched off to court and subject to further terrifying ordeals or if he is lucky, he might be released before it reaches that stage. All this can happen on the back of one single false allegation. It’s clearly a brutal and heavy-handed approach which has the potential of causing untold suffering and devastation on an individual.
Therefore, it’s quite right and just for our judiciary to take a firm stance against perpetrators of false domestic abuse allegations, where the victims are normally men. Our judiciary should be commended for this approach when so many men are falling victim to the brutal suffering and devastation caused by false allegations of domestic abuse.
Sheriff Drummond QC adequately surmises that: “Where there is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the application of that policy by the making of false allegations of criminal conduct; that is behaviour which strikes at the system of justice itself.”
I would respectfully submit that this is a completely true and valid point and there must be appropriate ramifications for people who strike at our system of justice in such a way.
In the case reported, it is quite apparent that there appears to be some level of deceit or untruth in the complainer’s allegation and the Sheriff is quite right to reprimand her for it to reflect the seriousness of such behaviour.
Accordingly, the Sheriff is to be commended for her stance in protecting the integrity of our justice system and punishing someone who attempts to undermine our system of justice and fairness with a false allegation of domestic abuse. It is a wicked and cruel thing to do.
I find the comments from Claire Baker to be completely inappropriate and she clearly shows no care or concern for victims of false allegations of domestic abuse and this is hugely disappointing. We should not be looking to support those who decide to make false allegations of domestic abuse.
Anyone who decides to undermine our system and inflict that sort of pain, suffering and devastation on an individual should quite rightly be dealt with strongly by the law. It is a terrible shame that this justice spokeswoman fails to recognise that and I am of the view that her comments ought to be condemned.