Tory MEP causes rape row over 'share of responsibility'

Roger Helmer Roger Helmer: Controversial comments

Tory Euro MP Roger Helmer is no stranger to controversy. But he may be regretting his comments on rape and sentencing policy.

Writing in his blog, he sets out his case for defining two types of rape: "stranger rape" and "date rape". It's his observations on "date rape" that have caused some upset.

Dating scenario

His blog images a situation where a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend's apartment.

He writes: "She voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says 'stop!'. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on."

"The victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend's mind," his blog continues.

He accepted he is likely to be "vilified" over his comments. Certainly, the Conservative Party has distanced itself. It's still only recovering from the political fall-out of Ken Clarke's initial thoughts on cutting prison sentences for rapists.

Critical reaction

One backbench East Midlands Conservative Nigel Mills, the MP for Amber Valley, has already urged the Euro MP to back off, saying any suggestion that the victim could be blamed "can't be right".

Start Quote

I have been astonished by the reaction”

End Quote Roger Helmer MEP

Another East Midlands Euro MP has entered the row: Bill Newton-Dunn, a Liberal Democrat, said Mr Helmer should withdraw his comments immediately.

"Roger Helmer has once again sought the limelight through making offensive and odious remarks on his blog," said Mr Newton-Dunn.

When I phoned Roger Helmer to get his response, he was on his way to a committee meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels. No, he didn't want to be interviewed, but it was clear this was one occasion when he wasn't enjoying being in the eye of the political storm.

"It's gone well beyond what I had in mind," he told me.

"I have been astonished by the reaction. I was offering my thoughts in support of what Ken Clarke had said. I am standing by what I said in my blog and am happy to leave it at that. I don't want to pursue it any further," he added.

Downing Street - and Ken Clarke - may welcome this particular Tory Euro MP maintaining a lower profile for a while.

John Hess Article written by John Hess John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Ken Clarke was correct in what he said, although he did say it badly and it is a highly emotive subject.

    On the other hand, Roger Helmer is totally wrong.

    No means No.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Any man, worth calling a man, is able to restrain himself. "I couldn't help myself" is only an excuse if you are selfish and inconsiderate.

    There have been occasions when I have withdrawn, because my partner changed her mind, for whatever reason. It is all a matter of allowing your neocortex to to control your actions as opposed to you medula oblongata.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Consent is all important.
    But are we forgetting the psychological harm to a man, when he is called a rapist by society, by some-one they love, by friends, etc ? Many men are selfish when it comes to sex, and should feel shame and be punished if they over step the mark. However a woman needs to make it plane, and not expect a man to be a mind reader. Psychological harm is the issue, not property.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Rape is rape whether you prefix that with 'date' or 'stranger'. Being raped by someone you know would be worse than stranger rape. For someone that supposedly cares for you to demand, nay, take control over your body to your detriment?!? Ken Clarke, Roger Helmer and all such male persons better climb back into the neandarthal hole they came out of. And I don't even believe in evolution!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    No means no. Anyone has the right to change their mind at any time, be it the woman OR the man. This imbecile shouldn't be any kind of MP, let alone representing us in the European Pariament! Am utterly horrified, at least the Justice Secretary was trying to distinguish between statutory rape and more violent rape, this guy is just misogynistic in the worst possible way


Comments 5 of 16



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