Alleged rape victims will no longer be cross-examined in live court proceedings under changes to the law proposed by the British Government.
The move has been proposed to save money and spare those who claim to have been raped the trauma of reliving the events.
Instead of the traditional process of cross-examination, where witnesses are asked questions by lawyers in front of the jury, the process will be allowed to take place in advance, with pre-recorded video evidence shown in court.
Judges could allow recordings to be edited, scrubbing lines of questioning that they decide should not be admitted in court.
Critics have said the changes amount to “tipping the scales of justice” against wrongfully accused men, arguing the new regime will provide fewer opportunities to expose false claims.
The measures were announced by the UK’s Justice Secretary, Lizz Truss, in an interview with The Sunday Times.
She denied that the policy was about “changing the balance between the accuser and the defendant”, and said that adopting the system in child sex trials had not changed overall conviction rates.
Truss said video evidence – which can be shown to defendants in advance – leads to more early guilty pleas.
She argued this “reduces the level of trauma” victims experience. It would also save significant amounts of money.
However, justice campaigners and some legal experts disagreed.
James Conte, of the accused. me.uk website, which supports falsely accused men, said: “If you are an innocent man who finds himself in front of a jury, you will think it unfair that your accuser is being shielded from giving evidence before the jury. This is tipping the scales of justice.”
Zoe Gascoyne, chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said: “This may be a step too far.”