UK

Father's Fury At CPS Who Pursued 'Vulnerable' Daughter Over False Rape Claim

07/11/2014 10:03 GMT | Updated 07/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Prosecutors are facing urgent questions over the suicide of a "vulnerable" young woman with bi-polar disorder who her father claims was hounded over an alleged false rape claim.

Eleanor de Freitas's family have demanded to know why their daughter was pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service, despite being told by police they had no evidence she had lied about the allegation, and with the knowledge she had a mental illness.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders is set to personally investigate the tragic death of the 23-year-old.

eleanor de freitas

Eleanor de Freitas killed herself in April, as the CPS pursued a claim against her

De Freitas's father David told the Guardian his daughter was "a vulnerable young woman, diagnosed with bipolar, who made a complaint of rape as a result of which she herself became the subject of legal proceedings".

"This was despite the fact the police did not believe there to be a case against her. There are very serious implications for the reporting of rape cases if victims fear that they may themselves end up the subject of a prosecution if their evidence is in any way inconsistent. It is of the utmost importance that the CPS consider very carefully whether such cases are in the public interest."

He said that "the system of fairness in this country has let me down terribly", adding that something needs to be done so that this can never happen again.

David de Freitas said his daughter, who took her own life in April this year, had left an extensive suicide note expressing fear of giving evidence. The man in question, who was released due to lack of evidence, had pursued a lengthy and costly civil claim against de Freitas, according to the Guardian.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the force received an allegation of rape in south west London on January 4 2013. "The allegation was investigated by specialist officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command," the spokesman said.

"One man was arrested but subsequently released with no further action due to lack of evidence, and the case was closed."

In a statement, Saunders said she was "very saddened by the tragic death".

"I have asked the team which dealt with this case for a full explanation which addresses all of the de Freitas family's concerns. I appreciate the family's unease which is why I am looking at this personally in order to satisfy myself of the detail surrounding all the stages of the case.

"Prosecuting cases of perverting the course of justice in connection with an alleged false rape allegation is rare, extremely difficult and always complex and sensitive.

"This case was one of the most difficult I have seen. To say any more at this stage would be inappropriate until I can answer the de Freitas family's concerns fully and directly. I would welcome the opportunity then to meet with Eleanor's family to discuss the case and the law surrounding it."

An inquest into the death is due to open today at West London coroner's court, but lawyers for the family are expected to call on the coroner to postpone the hearing in order to carry out a wider inquiry in front of a jury, which would examine whether the CPS decision to prosecute was a contributing factor in her death.

Deborah Coles, co-director of the charity Inquest, said in a statement: “This case raises serious issues of concern regarding the prosecution of rape complainants.

In addition, Eleanor had severe mental health issues which do not appear to have been taken into account by the Crown Prosecution Service. There must be robust scrutiny at the inquest to explore how these issues of public interest impacted on her life.”

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