The conviction rate for rape cases under a court martial is just 10 per cent, compared to more than five times that in civilian courts.
Thompsons is supporting Labour’s call to amend the armed forces bill to improve service personnel’s access to justice in cases of rape and other serious offences.
Labour is calling for all rape and other serious offences involving military service people, which are committed in the UK, to be investigated and tried under civilian courts, rather than in a military court, known as a court martial.
According to figures published by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year, from 2015 to 2019, the conviction rate for rape cases in a court martial was 10 per cent, compared to civilian courts which was 59 per cent, with far greater trial numbers.
Labour has referred to a judge-led independent review in 2017 which recommended that “the court martial jurisdiction should no longer include murder, manslaughter and rape when these offences are committed in the UK, except when the consent of the attorney general is given.” However, it is reported that veterans minister, Johnny Mercer, claimed no such recommendation was made.
The conviction rate of such atrocious acts is already despicably low in civilian courts, but the military court figures should be a source of shame to the MOD and the government.
Paul Shevlin Head of professional misconduct and criminal law
Paul Shevlin, head of professional misconduct and criminal law at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The conviction rate of such atrocious acts is already despicably low in civilian courts, but the military court figures should be a source of shame to the MOD and the government. Despite knowing of this appalling miscarriage of justice, the government has chosen to ignore a recommendation that would increase the chances of achieving a conviction.
“It seems the government is fond of ignoring recommendations made in independent reviews. We’re still waiting to hear of any recommendations from the Inquiry into the conduct of convicted surgeon, Ian Paterson, to be made - which was published more than a year ago - and we’ve heard barely a whisper about the ones made in the First Do No Harm report regarding scandalous medical interventions that have harmed thousands of people.
“Our Patients Before Profits campaign is about getting private healthcare to be regulated as the NHS and an extension of that principal is that what applies to civilians should apply to the military. A sexual assault is a sexual assault, wherever it occurs.
“Military service people risk their lives to serve their country. If the MOD is unable to prevent violent crimes happening in the first place and is serious about routing out this evil, then the least they can do is ensure they are investigated and tried in a court where a positive result is much more likely.”