Rape trial judge asked for her views

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Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan is involved in discussions with senior judges

The judge who oversaw the recent case involving two Ulster rugby players has been asked for her views on how rape trials are conducted.

The Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) is involved in discussions with senior legal figures – including Judge Patricia Smyth.

They are considering if changes need to be made which do not need legislation.

After the recent high-profile trial involving Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, there were calls for reforms.

These would give better protection to defendants and complainants in rape cases.

There was a call afterwards for consideration to be given to granting defendants in rape cases anonymity.

There were also calls to give complainants better protections to ensure their right to anonymity is not breached.

Judge Patricia Smyth oversaw the recent nine-week trial and is now being consulted on any lessons learned.

A spokesperson for the Lord Chief Justice’s office said: “The LCJ has started discussions with the trial judge and senior Crown Court judges to see if there is anything the courts can do that doesn’t require legislation.”

A number of victims charities want more to be done.

They have joined forces to call for a review of how Northern Ireland’s criminal justice system deals with cases of alleged sexual violence.

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Both Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson were found not guilty in unanimous verdicts

The joint call came from Victim Support NI, Women’s Aid Federation, Nexus NI and the Men’s Advisory Project.

They urged the authorities to take account of complainants’ experiences throughout the prosecution process, including media reporting of trials.

They also called for the “low level of convictions” to be addressed.

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