Daily Mail

Top cop steps aside, denying calling most rape ‘regretful sex’

- By George Odling Crime Correspond­ent

ONE of Britain’s most senior policemen has been referred to a watchdog for allegedly describing the bulk of rape complaints as ‘regretful sex’.

Former Scotland Yard acting commission­er Sir Stephen House is said to have made the comments to a Home Office adviser conducting a review into rape cases.

The Independen­t Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it was assessing a referral regarding comments made by a former senior Metropolit­an Police officer in January last year.

Sir Stephen, who was deputy commission­er at the time before becoming acting commission­er three months later, emphatical­ly denied using the phrase and said he found it ‘abhorrent’.

The claims come ahead of a major review into the Met’s culture conducted by Baroness Louise Casey, following a string of scandals and allegation­s of institutio­nal misogyny.

The alleged comments were made to Professor Betsy Stanko, who was leading Operation Soteria Bluestone, a review aimed at increasing the number of rape cases that make it to court. Professor

Stanko, formerly head of evidence and insight at the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime, alleges Sir Stephen made the remarks at a meeting with top officers at Scotland Yard in January last year to discuss her project’s findings.

‘It felt as if he [Sir Stephen] was trying to minimise what the problem was, not taking it seriously,’ she told Channel 4 News. ‘He used terms to describe – or a term to describe – what he thought the bulk of the rape complaints were, which was the term “regretful sex”.’

She said she had also heard the phrase used by officers in other forces and understood it to indicate that the victim in a sexual assault case had been mistaken.

She added: ‘[The phrase means] that that fault line of forcible sex, which is rape, was not crossed because it must have been confusion. The problem was about confusion, not about the facts or the evidence that could have been collected if one was trying to investigat­e a rape.’

Sir Stephen became acting commission­er last April following Dame Cressida Dick’s resignatio­n.

He remained at the helm of Britain’s biggest police force until last September, when Sir Mark Rowley became permanent commission­er.

Last night Sir Stephen told Channel 4: ‘I categorica­lly deny using the phrase “regretful sex”.

‘These are not words I have ever used in relation to rape or sexual assault and the reason I am so certain that I did not say this is because I simply do not believe it; I find

the phrase abhorrent. Rape is a truly horrific crime and I, and many other colleagues, have strived to improve the service victims of rape receive; of course there is still much more to do.’

He welcomed an IOPC probe into the claims, adding: ‘As a public servant and as a father of two daughters I find this characteri­sation of me to be deeply upsetting, and colleagues who know me know how untrue it is.’

Scotland Yard deputy commission­er Lynne Owens confirmed the force had referred the matter to the IOPC. A spokesman for the watchdog said: ‘We will carefully assess the referral to decide what further action may be required from us.’

Sir Stephen had been leading a review of productivi­ty in policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, but last night the Home Office said he would step back from this role. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Rape and sexual offences are among the most traumatic of crimes, and it is vital that victims know they will be taken seriously and their allegation­s investigat­ed thoroughly.’

The row comes as the Met is urgently reviewing all staff members who have had allegation­s of sexual assault or domestic abuse made against them in the last decade following the scandal of elite firearms officer David Carrick, who carried out a 17-year campaign of rape and sexual assault against at least a dozen women.

‘Trying to minimise the problem’

 ?? ?? Storm: Sir Stephen
Storm: Sir Stephen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom