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Beyond Spacey and Malkinson

L to R: Kevin Spacey; Andy Malkinson

In late July, Andy Malkinson had his 20 year-long conviction for rape quashed, and Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey was cleared of sexual assault against four complainants on the same day. Malkinson had spent 17 years in prison, the last ten because he refused to admit guilt to something he hadn't done. Spacey, winner of Oscars for his roles in American Beauty and The Usual Suspects, had been cleared in a US court of similar charges a year prior to his UK court appearance.

Acknowledging in the witness box he had been a 'big flirt', when asked if he had reached out sexually in lonesome moments, Spacey responded:

'Welcome to life. Yes I did'.

The jury clearly decided that whatever the #MeToo movement had decided sexual assault now was, the charges against him were not it. Malkinson on the other hand had never had the privilege of being feted as 'one of the finest actors of his generation' (as author Douglas Murray said of Spacey). Instead, Malkinson had languished, innocent and stubborn, in the jails of England throughout most of the first part of this century.

The only similarity Malkinson's case had to a million he said/she said sexual assault allegations was that his complainant had somehow picked him out of an identity parade – and his world had then turned black. It was only when the charity APPEAL, assisting him, uncovered DNA evidence that had been hidden by Greater Manchester Police that the appeal court itself said it wouldn't be resisting yet another application to the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission). This meant a - very rare - full exoneration was on its way.

Meanwhile, Kevin Spacey's career had been binned by Hollywood, he had been forced to pay upwards of $25 million to the production company of House of Cards - once Netflix's biggest rater - and had to sell his California home as he tried to raise it.

Possibly one of Spacey's biggest missteps was to come out as gay just as the first high #MeToo-era allegations were being made, in an attempt to explain to a venomous and increasingly puritanical media environment what might have happened and why. He wouldn't have seen any connection between the allegations against him and 'paedophilia', but social media had become a very warped place while he was busy training young actors at The Old Vic in Bristol, and he was duly savaged for conflating the two subjects.

'It's nothing to do with you being secretly gay, it's to do with you abusing children', would be the general run of things, in a way that has become only too familiar for any insufficiently risk-averse, high profile male. Still, in these cases the once golden thread of justice somehow wove itself around something firmer; while the Law Commission announced they were opening a public consultation on how to handle sexual assault cases in the future.

Included in proposals were/are for judges to be compelled to direct court cases based on theoretical so-called 'rape myths', which would lower the threshold for conviction even more. Surely, this would have spelled the end for Spacey had such measures been passed before his trial.

Also on the table is doing away with juries altogether, since not enough rape convictions are apparently being achieved - who knows what that would have meant for either Spacey or Malkinson had that been the case for their trials. Would the judges have to even give conventional reasoning, or would they be able to hide things under: 'According to academic research...', and then decree based on that?

The Criminal Law Reform Network Now (CLRNN) also have a proposal of 'deceit sex', dovetailing with the Law Commission's ideas, meaning that any sort of deceit may be considered as non-consensual sexual activity. This would obviously lead to charges of rape from cuckolded spouses and lied-to pickups, let alone the compensation incentive that always seems to lurk in the back of interested litigant's minds.

The reasoning behind the proposals is that not enough rape convictions are being found to satisfy increasingly vocal academic activists such as Betsy Stanko at Imperial College London, ex-Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird, or the incumbent Claire Waxman. This figure is consistently around 1.5% of all allegations, whether reported to the police or not, and varies depending on how the statistics are calculated. However, between 2010 and 2016 allegations increased from roughly 15,000 per year to approximately 70,000 per year, and they keep rising as alleged sexual assault stories in the media become more frequent.

The vast majority are given No Further Action because, as in the Spacey case, the threshold for considering them sexual assault is not reached, however much direct court-to-newsroom stories paint them all as horrific situations: many could easily be classed as 'sexual misadventure', and dealt with in conflict resolution tribunals. Of those that do get to criminal court, the conviction rate is a steady circa 65%, so are not so loaded against the complainant (not victim, never victim until verdict is called, and even then only if they consent to the term) after all.

As the Spacey and Malkinson cases have shown in fully-syndicated glory, the allegation-as-conviction and victim industries are life-destroying, legacy-cancelling, and expensive; and that doesn't even touch the mothers, family, loved ones and wider life time networks of the accused. Will the exquisite golden thread be returned to British justice following these two high profile cases? Only if that system stops capitulating to ideological activists with vested interests.

By Sean Bw Parker

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