Rape victim set to push justice secretary for law change

Emma Bryson. 'Photo: John Millard/Scotsman
Emma Bryson. 'Photo: John Millard/Scotsman

A woman whose alleged rapist escaped prosecution is set to meet the justice secretary as she campaigns to have the centuries-old legal principle of corroboration scrapped.

Emma Bryson, 45, waived her right to anonymity earlier this year to speak about the abuse she suffered in the 1980s, beginning when she was just ten years old.

She will today meet Michael Matheson as part of her efforts to have the Scottish Government re-examine the issue of corroboration, the legal principle which requires two independent pieces of ­evidence for a case to come to court.

Ms Bryson’s case was re-investigated by police in 2016 – only for the Crown Office to advise a prosecution was unlikely to be succesful due to a lack of corroborating evidence.

She said the decision left her feeling “defeated” and “badly let down” by the system she hoped would give her justice.

Speaking ahead of her meeting with Mr Matheson today, she said: “I began to speak out about my experience of the criminal justice system after the Crown Office made the decision not to prosecute the man responsible for ­raping me.

“With no other course of action available, I was left to come to terms with the fact that I had placed my faith in a justice system that made no attempt to seek justice, because despite the fact that there was evidence corroborating my statement it did not meet the very specific requirements for corroboration in rape cases.”

She added: “Reform won’t happen overnight and there’s no doubt that the requirement for corroboration in rape cases remains a controversial subject and one which has no easy resolution, but there is a general acknowledgement that access to justice for rape victims needs to be improved, which gives me some cause for optimism.”

Yesterday the Scottish Government announced that the views of rape and sexual assault victims will help shape improvements in the criminal justice system through a new research initiative.

The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) project will seek to understand the factors influencing whether a survivor of sexual abuse engages with the system and look at how the process can be improved.

Mr Matheson said: “Listening to the views of survivors of rape and sexual assault is so important and I am humbled by the courage of those who are prepared to speak out where the system is not delivering for their needs.

“Going through the justice process can be a daunting experience and I am determined that we do more so that all stages are victim-centred and trauma-informed.”