According to the BBC, last year the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns received an email informing him that a man who had worked for him in his constituency office had, according to a judge, ‘sabotaged’ a rape trial.
Despite this, Alun Cairns still allowed that man, Ross England to be picked as an Assembly candidate in the Vale of Glamorgan Assembly seat. And when it came to light, he denied knowing anything about the matter.
If the BBC’s story is accurate (and knowing the BBC, they wouldn’t publish unless they were entirely sure of their facts) then Alun Cairns should follow in Ross England’s footsteps and be de-selected as a candidate in the upcoming General Election while an investigation is conducted.
I was not surprised to see that a petition has already begun calling on him to resign. But while this matter will now be used as a political football to attack the Conservatives, there is something and someone much more important to remember here than scoring political points – the victim of the rape.
And not just her but the thousands of rape victims in this country who face a hard enough decision already attempting to secure justice for what was done to them.
As a victim of rape myself at the age of 14 I know the physiological trauma that this crime can cause. The experience has scarred me mentally to this day.
And what is unforgivable about the Conservative party’s actions is that it has contributed to a culture where sexual assault and rape is one that is covered up and brushed under the carpet.
According to the charity Rape Crisis, 20% of women and 4% of men in Wales and England have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, equivalent to 3.4 million female and 631,000 male victims.
Despite this, conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator.
One of the reasons for the low conviction rate is not just that society tends to blame the victim of rape, but also because the idea of going through a trial and giving evidence is such a psychologically difficult ordeal.
By collapsing the rape trial Ross England would have caused further strain to the victim.
And if Alun Cairns knew that this had happened and did nothing, he was saying that such behaviour was OK. He was saying that someone who did such a thing was worthy of being an elected member.
That’s unforgivable and it is why Alun Cairns should not stand in the Vale of Glamorgan.