The latest international false rape news


In London, former newspaper publisher Eddy Shah has been cleared of raping an underage girl. Some people in Edmonton share his sense of outrage.


Kat Banyard


If you haven’t heard of Eddy Shah, he almost became a newspaper magnate in the 1980s. Things didn’t quite work out for him, but they did yesterday when he was cleared by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of historical sex offences. Since the Jimmy Savile scandal we have seen an explosion of these cases, and many are still waiting to go to trial. To date there has been one conviction – Stuart Hall. There has also been an acquittal – that of actor Andrew Lancel. The two cases could hardly have been more disparate. Hall, who is now an old man, was an opportunist predator who took advantage of young girls while working as a TV presenter. Lancel was accused by someone he had once regarded as a friend, a male.

Hall was given a 15 month sentence, but this has now been sent to the Court Of Appeal on an Attorney General’s reference after members of the public complained it was unduly lenient.

Eddy Shah’s case is not comparable, and appears to have been an opportunistic blackmail attempt, and he said as much in court. He was not alone in the dock, but he was the only one of the three defendants who spoke to the BBC after the case, and he didn’t mince his words, calling for a review of the way celebrity and similar high profile sex cases are handled by the police.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a men’s rights group is not simply talking about the way alleged rape cases are handled but is taking action, and their campaign has led to mock outrage from the usual suspects.

Men’s Rights Edmonton has produced a poster that parodies a police anti-rape campaign transforming “Don’t be that guy” into “Don’t be that girl”. Its message is just because you regret a one night stand doesn’t mean it was not consensual. Although the police and loony feminists are not happy with the campaign, it has some high powered female support.

A young lady who uses the YouTube handle Typhon Blue has made a video about the campaign. Then there is Karen Straughan, whose YouTube channel girlwriteswhat contains dozens of polemics against feminism. As might be expected, men’s rights campaigners – be they men or women – tend to overstate their case as well, but unlike the other side they are prepared to debate the issue. This is nothing new, in her book The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today, British radical feminist Kat Banyard makes the outrageous claim that there are at least a hundred thousand women raped in the UK every year, a claim which has been plucked out of thin air, like similar lurid claims going back to the foundation of modern feminism.

Karen Straughan was interviewed by Canada’s Global News, to whom she gave her usual, forthright assessment. Another Karen – Karen Smith of the Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre – expressed an entirely different view: “people just don’t lie about that”. Oh yeah? Obviously she hasn’t heard of Eddy Shah. Nor of Leanne Black, who has just been given a two year sentence after accusing no less than five different men of sexually abusing her over a period of eight years. Nor has she heard of Astria Berwick who accused a taxi driver of raping her, a false allegation which landed her with a sixteen month sentence after her victim turned the tables on his accuser with a phone app. She does not appear either to have heard of Philippa Costello, who was given an eight month sentence recently for accusing a man of rape when like Astria Berwick, no sex act had taken place.

The trial judge in this case, Mr Justice Taylor, made a sadly too rare observation: “Regrettably, offences like this are not uncommon and a clear message has got to be sent out by the courts that those who make such allegations leading to the arrest and detention of perfectly innocent people must be marked out by way of being punished.”

In another recent case, from New Zealand, a woman claimed to have been raped just so she could get a ride home in a police car after a night out! She was said to have been charged with a similar offence three years ago.

Perhaps the most shocking recent case though was one that was reported last month.

Black South African Cedric Shezi had spent ten years behind bars after being accused of raping his own daughter, who made this allegation when she was just 8 years old, apparently at the behest of her mother, who died in 2007. Considering the way child rapists are treated in prison, one can only reiterate that some things are worse than actual rape.

Karen Smith said too that “In 2009, there were nearly 21,000 sexual assaults reported to police, according to Statistics Canada. However, that number doesn’t reflect the number of actual sex assaults, as less than one in 10 attacks are reported”.

This begs the question how does she – or anyone – know? And of course, they don’t, like Kat Banyard, this woman has simply plucked these statistics out of thin air, and this is undoubtedly the reason feminists refuse, always have refused, and always will refuse, to debate with the people behind that false rape poster campaign. This is doubly tragic because at the end of the day, rape is not an imaginary crime: the recent grooming gangs, the Steubenville case, and most shocking of all the Delhi case of last December are real enough. Spreading nonsense or even outright lies about the true prevalence of rape in society stigmatises innocent men, and does nothing either to help real victims or to combat sexual violence.

[The above op-ed was first published July 13, 2013. The word historic has been replaced with the grammatically correct historical. At this time I was still italicising the word feminist so have done so here too. Typhon Blue is the YouTube handle of anti-feminist vlogger Alison Tieman. The rape statistics cited by Kat Banyard may not have been plucked out of the air by her personally, but the are total garbage. I have discussed and debunked these in one of my hangouts for the False Rape Timeline, and indeed others have torn them to shreds as well.]

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