‘Gagging for it’: It’s not rape if victim is drunk, claims top barrister

AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard
One of Britain’s leading barristers has provoked outrage after saying men should not be prosecuted for rape if a female victim claims they were too drunk to consent to sex.

David Osborne, 71, made the comments in a blog post called “She Was Gagging For It.”

The senior lawyer posted objections to the new Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines, which state men should be able to prove consent was given.

He slated the new guidelines for being “bent towards the conviction of the accused” and referred to potential victims of abuse as “complainants.

Don't understand why David Osborne is allowed to be a part of the justice system after referring to rape victims as 'complainants', vile.

— Leanne (@LeanneMul) February 9, 2015

“Consent is consent, blind drunk or otherwise, and regret after the event cannot make it rape. I have a simple solution,” he wrote.

“If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped,’ this provides the accused with a complete defense. End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!”

“My considerable experience tells me that there are basically two defenses to an allegation of rape: either ‘it wasn’t me guv,’ or ‘she was gagging for it.’”

Screenshot from www.david-osborne.com

Interviewed over the weekend, Osborne said if women who “trollop around with their t*ts out” decided to “cover up” there would be fewer cases of rape, and many rape cases were caused by women who “send out certain signals,” causing men to think “she looks like a goer.”

The lawyer further told the Daily Mail he thought the “government and prosecution service are going too far the other way.”

It does happen where the girl says she’s up for it – she wants a quickie – and then it is unpleasant and torrid and terrible. There are no violins playing, it’s round the back of the community center. The next morning she wakes up and feels ashamed. It’s very easy for her to convince herself that she did not actually consent,”he added.

His comments were met with fury by victims, lawyers and charities alike, who called his views “simply wrong.”

Alison Saunders, the director of Public Prosecutions, however, said consent was in no way “a grey area.

“In the law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely. We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue – how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?”

Support groups for victims of sexual abuse also spoke out against Osborne’s remarks.

Sarah Green, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “I find it hard to believe this is not a sick joke. He is suggesting the opposite of the law.”

Louise Pennington, from the group Ending Victimisation, said Osborne was suggesting “men are incapable of controlling their own urges when they see a woman in a short skirt.”

Members of the legal profession also condemned the post.

Andrew Langdon QC, leader of the Western Circuit, said he had spoken to Osborne and “told him that I consider his blog to be offensive.”

“Most of what he says is simply wrong. The views he articulates are not remotely representative of barristers who prosecute and defend these cases in practice,” he added.

Osborne has since added an amendment to the original post, clarifying his comments and saying he was “surprised” by media reaction.