Ken Clarke must lose job for rape comments - Labour

LONDON Wed May 18, 2011 6:01pm BST

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke leaves 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke leaves 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting, June 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Labour party called for Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to be sacked on Wednesday after he drew a distinction between "serious" rape and sex attacks committed on a date.

Clarke, a former lawyer and senior Conservative who has served as a minister under three different party leaders, made the comments during a radio interview on government plans to increase the use of plea-bargaining in criminal cases.

"Serious rape, I don't think many judges give five years for a forcible rape -- frankly, the tariff is longer than that. A serious rape with violence and an unwilling woman -- the tariff is longer than that," he told BBC radio.

When the interviewer interjected, saying "Rape is rape, with respect," he said: "No, it's not."

He went on to say that "date rape can be as serious as the worst rapes but date rapes ... in my very old experience of being in trials ... they do vary extraordinarily one from another, and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances."

Sentencing guidelines for rape in Britain range between four and 19 years, depending on the nature of the crime.

"The justice secretary cannot speak for the women of this country when he makes comments like that," Labour leader Ed Miliband told Prime Minister David Cameron in parliament. "(He) should not be in his post at the end of today."

A spokesman for Cameron told reporters it was "clearly regrettable" if Clarke's comments had caused any offence. Clarke later clarified his comments but stopped short of an apology.

"If I have given offence, I don't quite understand how I've done it, but obviously I don't intend to give the impression -- and did not intend to choose words that gave the impression -- that all rape is not serious," he told Sky News.

"I'll make sure I give my views more clearly in the future."

The government is looking into how it deals with plea-bargaining, potentially offering lesser sentences to those who plead guilty early in an effort to boost conviction rates for crimes such as rape.

"The real disgrace in our country is that only six percent of rapes that are reported to a police station end in conviction -- that is what we have to sort out," Cameron said.

(Reporting by Matt Falloon, Olesya Dmitracova and Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison)

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Comments (5)
TrojanHorus wrote:
What twaddle. New Labour landed us with one crappy Home Secretary after another, blunder after blunder – and now finally we have someone who actually seems anxious to moderately reform some screaming anomolies in the system and save the taxpayer a few bob at the same time, and Ed Milliband uses it to try and pick up conservative swing voters instead. It’s a shameless piece of politicking which will work against him in the longer run. I’m sure privately he agrees entirely with Clarke’s liberal leaning pragmatism

May 18, 2011 3:40pm BST  --  Report as abuse
Courier65 wrote:
Of course the trouble with Plea Bargaining, as demonstrated by friends in the USA, is that many innocent people vote guilty.

It’s cheaper to pay the fine than to fight the charge. The people bringing it in are the same that are restricting access to Legal Aid and the only winners are the legal profession. Oh, wait a minute, what is Clarkes profession again?

Hypocritical and Corrupt, I think it’s now a pre-requisite to be an MP..

May 18, 2011 3:59pm BST  --  Report as abuse
CO2-Exhaler wrote:
It shows how utterly desperate the opposition has become when so much energy is put into a non-story. Sentences for rape are broadly speaking within the discretion of the judge, up to and including life imprisonment. Ergo, some rapes are more seroius than others. Rape isn’t rape, otherwise everybody would receive the same sentence. This really isn’t rocket science.

May 18, 2011 6:56pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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