Following a drive to re-examine the approach of the Criminal Justice system to sexual offences in light of the Savile enquiry, the Director of Public Prosecutions last week published an insightful report into alleged false allegations of rape and domestic violence.

The study at the Crown Prosecution Service concluded amongst other things, that a large proportion of such purported false allegations were made by young, and sometimes very vulnerable people, but that contrary to perhaps more widespread belief, such false allegations are comparatively rare.

Those suspected of making false claims of rape, are usually charged with the offence of perverting the course of justice, although the offence itself covers a wide range of purported behaviour. A further example of the diverse nature of this offence was demonstrated last week by the imposition of an eight month custodial sentence for Vicky Pryce who had been convicted of perverting the course of justice, together with her ex-husband Chris Huhne, having accepted that she had taken penalty points for a road traffic offence that he was said to have committed, thereby enabling him to avoid disqualification.

Whatever the circumstances that bring about the investigation or charge, the potential consequences of a conviction for perverting the course of justice are severe. The offence itself is one that can only be tried in the Crown Court. In terms of sentence, the approach that the Court tends to take with this offence is one of deterrence, and an immediate custodial sentence is often the starting point following conviction for perverting the course of justice. It is vital that if you are arrested or charged with such an offence, you seek legal advice at an early stage.

If you face proceedings for perverting the course of justice and would like further information, please contact: and ask for a member of the criminal department.