A man accused of rape has hit out at the police for sticking with a prosecution for two years despite having no evidence of a crime ever being committed after the case was dropped yesterday.
Elgan Varney was charged with raping Hannah Stubbs, who had taken her life in August 2015 as the police investigated the alleged crime. Both were students at Keele University.
Varney, who had denied two counts of rape and one of sexual assault, appeared at Stoke crown court on Monday. The CPS dropped the case because it decided that there was no realistic prospect of conviction.
Speaking yesterday, Elgan Varney acknowledged ‘how tragic Hannah’s untimely death was, and as someone who only ever cared about her I would like to send my sincere condolences to her family’.
He continued: ‘My anger and frustration is directed at the police and the CPS who had overwhelming evidence from the outset that no crime was committed. I was looking forward to the facts coming out at trial and I have to wonder why the CPS don’t want that now.’
His lawyer Mark Newby of QualitySolicitors Jordan said the case ‘again demonstrated both the danger of false allegations and false memories’. ‘More importantly it highlights the decimation that is caused to a person’s reputation who is named in the media on the basis of unfounded allegations,’ Newby said. ‘This has to stop.’
‘I should never have been charged and put through this horrendous ordeal in the first place,’ Varney said. ‘Whilst I am pleased that the CPS has finally come to the obvious conclusion that I have no case to answer, one has to question the timing of the prosecution’s decision to offer no evidence four days before the trial was due to start and over two years since these false allegations were made.’
He said that the case he contributed to ‘untold stress, two years of enormous struggle and time I will never get back’. ‘My vocational choice has been put in jeopardy and my life during that time can only be described as an existence,’ he continued. ‘It has been agony. My family have suffered. My close friends have suffered and tens of thousands of pounds of public money was spent on this prosecution before common sense prevailed.’
Varney said that he fully believe that all sexual allegations ‘should be investigated in a robust, fair and balanced manner and offenders should be brought to justice’. ‘However, in the current climate it is far too easy for innocent people to be falsely accused of sexual abuse. The police and CPS policy offers no protection to those wrongfully accused and many lives are left in tatters because of this. It is a problem that has to be acknowledged and not ignored for fear of putting genuine victims off reporting, because the reality is, false allegations only harm the cause of those with a genuine complaint.’
He flagged up last year’s review by Sir Richard Henriques into failed investigations into historic sex cases (as reported on the Justice Gap here). ‘The policy of ‘believing victims’ strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process,’ Sir Richard wrote. ‘It has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale.’
‘Time and time again I read about people in similar positions,’ Varney said. ‘The pendulum has swung too far and fairness and balance needs to be restored so that the presumption of innocence is not completely eroded. That is the only way for true justice to be done.’
In a statement Hannah Stubbs’ parents, Mandy and Paul said: ‘Our overwhelming feeling is one of loss. And we don’t want what happened to Hannah to define her life or our memory of the kind and loving person that she was. She was very good at whatever she turned her hand to, and could have achieved anything. Hannah had a love of life and particularly the outdoors. She loved people. She had a lot of potential. Her whole life was ahead of her until the point where it all fell apart. She was a very beautiful girl and much loved by all who knew her. We miss her very much.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award