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Gillen review: consultation opens

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Sir John Gillen, review, judiciary, Northern Ireland, rape trial, Ulster Rugby players, preliminary report, 220 recommendations, public consultationThe consultation will remain open until Friday 15 January 2019

Following the controversy surrounding the rape trial in Northern Ireland of two Ulster Rugby players earlier this year, Sir John Gillen was tasked to lead a major review into how serious sexual crimes are handled by the judicial system in Northern Ireland.

He has now published a preliminary report and has called for a series of measures to overhaul the way rape is dealt with by the criminal justice system.

This report contains more than 220 recommendations including:

Limiting public access to trials involving serious sexual offences to close family members of the complainant and the defendant;

Cross-examination of complainants to be pre-recorded away from the court (initially for vulnerable people and eventually to all complainants);

Publicly funded provision of legal representation for complainants;

Measures to combat rape myths and stereotypes which may influence juries, eg, victims provoke rape by the way they dress;

Strong measures to control the impact that social media is having in trials of serious sexual offences which is having an adverse impact on the administration of justice;

Enforce the law to prevent improper cross examination about previous sexual history;

Steps to combat excessive delay in the criminal justice system (the criminal justice system, from the beginning to the end of the process, in Northern Ireland takes twice as long as the system in England and Wales);

The accused will be anonymous until charged but will then be identified; and

Amending the definition of consent to include that a failure to say or do anything, to protest or to resist when submitting to a sexual act does not imply consent.

All the recommendations are open for consultation: the consultation will remain open until Friday 15 January 2019.

Those contributing to the consultation, can, if they wish, remain anonymous so that everyone who feels they can make a positive contribution to the review feels they are welcome to engage in the process.

Responses can be made online here, or by email: by telephoning 028 9026 1361, or by writing to: The Gillen Review, 6th Floor, Millennium House, 25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AQ.

To help ensure that Sir John’s final conclusions have been fully informed, you are also invited to participate in a short 5-minute anonymous online survey to have your views considered in the review: to do that, click here.

Outreach events will take place during the consultation period in Derry/Londonderry on 10 December; and Dungannon on 11 December and Belfast on 15 January. For details click here.

You can read a copy of the preliminary report here.

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