MoJ’s rape adviser quits over civil service's 'lack of will'

Some civil servants "bought into" myths about rape, Emily Hunt says as she describes "dispiriting" lack of progress despite some "excellent" officials
Photo: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

By Jonathan Owen

09 Oct 2023

Emily Hunt, the Ministry of Justice’s rape adviser,  has quit over a “lack of will” to improve the justice system for victims of sexual violence, and after encountering myths about rape being articulated within the civil service and police.

Hunt contributed to the MoJ’s Rape Review Action Plan in 2021, and earlier this year was awarded an OBE for services to victims of sexual violence.

Announcing her decision to stand down, in an interview with Channel 4 last night, she said: “I don't really feel like there is a purpose to my staying. I feel like I go into meetings, and I have conversations. And I say the same things over and over. And nothing happens.”

She added: “It just feels like there's a lack of will to continue to change.”

Hunt commented: “We need to remember that the government and all of the operational partners from the police to the prosecutors to the judges, they're all just people and people innately believe in rape myths. So, you have people going through their day-to-day lives who believe that: 'Oh, well, maybe her skirt was too short. Maybe she was drinking.'”

She added that she had encountered such attitudes more “within the professional and civil service side of things” and had “seen it in various levels of every room I've ever been in”.

The MoJ had appointed Hunt as its rape adviser to ensure that there was a strong advocate for victims, after her own battle with the justice system.

In 2015, she had woken up naked next to a man in a hotel room in London, who had filmed her while she was unconscious. Christopher Killick was arrested on suspicion of rape, but not charged by the police, who believed there was a lack of evidence. When Hunt found out about the video he had taken, she met the CPS to try to get a prosecution for voyeurism.

Hunt fought a five-year battle to bring Killick to justice after the CPS initially declined to press charges, and in 2020 he admitted one count of voyeurism. He was handed a 30-month community order, fined £2,000, ordered to pay Hunt £5,000 compensation, and given a restraining order banning him from contacting her. Earlier this year, Killick appeared in court for breaching the restraining order and was given a suspended sentence, something Hunt condemned as “laughable”.

Hunt claimed that there was a mismatch between government claims of improvements for victims and her own experience. “It was so dispiriting because I would be in these meetings, where people were talking about how things were getting better. And then I would get to experience the opposite.”

Hunt said she is returning to the US because she does not feel safe in the UK, with it being “scary” living in a country where she feels there is "no criminal justice system to keep me safe”. And the former rape advisor said: “I got to the point where I realised I don't think I could ever report a crime to the police in this country again, at least not right now.”

In a statement to CSW earlier today, the ex-adviser said: “It is not just the civil service that suffers from belief in rape myths. It’s an issue across society. I have worked with some amazing people in my time working at the Ministry of Justice.”

A MoJ spokesperson said: “We thank Emily Hunt for her valuable work over the last two years.”

They added: “We remain determined to stamp out these appalling crimes, making sure the criminal justice system supports victims and holds perpetrators to account.”

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