Conservative assembly candidate Ross England 'sabotaged' rape trial

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Ross England in Barry
Image caption,
Ross England is standing for the Welsh Conservatives for the 2021 assembly election

A Conservative party Welsh Assembly candidate deliberately "sabotaged" a rape trial, according to a judge.

Ross England was giving evidence in a rape trial in April 2018 when he made claims about the victim's sexual history, which the complainant denies.

Eight months after the rape trial collapsed, in December 2018 Mr England was selected to stand for the 2021 Assembly elections.

He told BBC Wales he had given an "honest answer".

Mr England has worked for Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns in his constituency office.

The victim told BBC Wales that Mr England's Conservative selection "shows how little respect they have for me".

The defendant in the case, James Hackett, who was a friend of Mr England, went on to be convicted of rape in a new trial.

During questioning Mr England made claims that he had had a casual sexual relationship with the complainant.

The judge in the case, Stephen John Hopkins QC, had earlier made clear that evidence of the sexual history of the victim was inadmissible.

He went on to say to Mr England: "Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?"

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ross England has worked for Alun Cairns in his constituency office

Mr England said that he thought the question was about his relationship with the woman. Replying, His Honour Judge Hopkins said it was not: "It was quite clear what the question was".

The judge then said: "You have managed singlehanded, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial".

Speaking to BBC Wales, the woman who was raped said: "It is completely shocking to me that Ross England would stand up in court and say these things given that they are untrue".

"He was asked if we worked together, and the answer to that is yes.

"Nobody asked him if we were in a sexual relationship or not. For him to just blurt that out proves to me that it was a formulated plan that he and whoever else conjured to try and derail the trial.

"I think it was an absolutely deliberate attempt to sabotage the trial."

'Get out of my court'

During the proceedings, His Honour Judge Hopkins went on to say to Mr England: "I shall be writing personal letters to people who are politically close to you and I hope they take appropriate action".

His final comment to Mr England was: "Get out of my court".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he did not receive any correspondence relating to this case.

Image caption,
Ross England speaking at Welsh Conservative conference in 2016

Mr Cairns endorsed Mr England as the Assembly election candidate following his selection in December 2018, describing him as a "friend and colleague" who it would be "a pleasure to campaign with".

The victim in the trial, speaking anonymously, told BBC Wales: "For them to make him a candidate in their target seat for the Welsh Assembly proves to be how little respect they have for me, how little respect they have for the criminal justice system.

"In a way they are thanking him, they are rewarding him. The message I get is that they have no respect for me, no respect for women who have been raped, as long as Ross is protected and he can be a candidate in a seat where he wants to be, that's the priority for them and it doesn't matter what else happens".

In a statement, Mr England said: "I was not told that anything had been ruled inadmissible prior to my testimony.

"I gave an honest answer, honouring the oath I took to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

"I complied fully with the conditions of the court before and after the trial."

The Welsh Conservatives have been asked to respond.