Ken Clarke: Regret but no apology

 

The justice secretary has admitted to using the "wrong choice of words" on BBC Radio 5 Live today and "the impression" they gave that he thought not all rapes are equally serious was "not his view".

However, he told the BBC in his third round of interviews today that "I haven't apologised" because he believes he's been misquoted.

The interview followed one that I did just two hours earlier in which he rejected the idea he had anything to be sorry about.

Ken Clarke was defending his plans to cut in half the sentences of criminals who plead guilty long before they get to court as a means to reduce the trauma for rape victims as well as police and court time and money.

Here's an excerpt of my second interview with Mr Clarke:

Q: Ken Clarke a couple of hours I said to you - do you apologise for the language that you had used on rape and the offence that it had caused? Are you now?

A: Well my view is that all rape is a serious crime and if I have given the impression to people that that is not my view is obviously wrong, and the wrong choice of words, every rape is a serious crime

Q: It's clear now that you regret the way that the words have been seen. If you'll forgive me - have you been told that you should apologise?

A: No, and I haven't apologised as far as I am aware, I apologise if an impression has been given which is not my view and which I don't think I stated. But my view, let's be clear, is that all rape is serious. I am not proposing any change in the sentence for rape.

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 70.

    Clearly there are different types of rape. A man breaking into a house and assaulting a woman violently at knife point in front of her child is more serious than a man on a date, who, after a few drinks pushes a girl who reluctantly acquiesces or feels pressured into sex. Neither are right and in both cases women need the protection of law but they are different and must treated as such.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    Please bear in mind that although rape has a 7% conviction rate, this does not mean that the other 93% are guilty and have got off on a technicality. This means that some alleged "rapists" were actually not guilty. We cannot reduce the burden of proof requirement simply because rape is an emotive crime.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    why cant politicians see that they could be repeatedly elected for a millenia if they

    1 treated rape of adults and especially children as serious as murder

    2 built prisons and gave repeat offenders harsh prison terms maybe a three strike system like the us of a

    3 and just to round off lower taxes,

    4 offer an eu referendum, if they did all this teyd be in power for a generation

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 67.

    @sagamix

    That's my point exactly @66. WE know what he meant because WE follow it. We read around it and we inform ourselves. If we didn't what would we be doing on Nicks blogg? The vast majority however don't and get whipped up by headlines. My point is that the BBC (and Nick) should be there to inform and educate NOT throw fuel on the flames of nonsense and perpetuate ignorance!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 66.

    kevin tubb @ 60

    Yes he may have been (plus I quite like Ken and I think Miliband's majoring on this 'gaffe' was ill judged) but I don't agree with you that it was crystal clear from the interview that that's what he meant. The reason I know it IS what he meant is based on what I know of Clarke and my (positive) opinion of him. For a tory, that is, I'm not utterly in love with him or anything.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 65.

    AS71 @ 64

    But if a life sentence HAS to be for life, all that'll happen is that headline sentences will have be reduced accordingly. It's sematics, essentially.

    Also, if life means life, one can't then implement your 'additional sentences for bad behaviour' inside. Can one?

    Unless you're contemplating some sort of incarceration beyond the grave. Maybe you are, but that seems overly harsh.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 64.

    Plenty of reasons to get rid of Ken Clarke but this isn't one of them.

    I would like to see a shift of policy by the coalition and see KC replaced with someone who understands that prison works. Life sentences to mean life, no early release for any reason, additional sentences for bad behaviour. Too expensive? Stop sending money to countries who can afford nuclear weapons & space programs.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    The unfortunate thing here is that Clarke's comments have shamelessly been exploited, first for news copy and secondly for political gain. If I were a rape survivor, I would be as disgusted with the way Labour politicised this issue as I would with someone saying rape isn't serious. What we need is a sensible discussion of the issue not political grandstanding.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 62.

    What Clarke said and meant is clear, although he said it in a particularly clumsy way. In the original interview he clearly said "all rapes are serious". However, do all rapes recieve the same sentence and should they? This is where he came unstuck by equating date rape (unconsenting and forced) with underage sex (unconsenting, due to age, but willing participation). The two are not the same.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 61.

    Derbyshire was crudely looking for a quote and the BBC made a mountain out of a molehill just to try to emphasise the 'cutting edge' news of Five Live. Clarke and Derbyshire were confusing each other. Millibrand then demonstrated that Labour still thinks substance rather than action is what politics is all about. A mistaken quote is more important to them than 94% of rapists escaping conviction.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 60.

    "Inform, educate and entertain"? Remember that remit?

    It is clear to me that Mr Clarke was trying to establish the difference between Aggravated Rape and Statutory Rape, the first being the most heinous form of assault and the latter quite often a legal technicality between consenting individuals. Many don't understand the difference.

    More information and less entertainment please Aunty!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 59.

    'Foxes' @ heinz

    No - or rather it depends on what you (and indeed Ken) mean.

    Please see my 56.

    (1) is fine but (2) isn't.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 58.

    As a survivor, his comments made me physically sick. All rapes are just as bad as each other whether violence is used or not. All rapes damage their victims in exactly the same way.
    1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted, only 10% of crimes reported due to fear, scared of not being believed, less than 7% of rapists ever spend a day in jail! Work on that Ken! Not lowering sentences for rapists!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 57.

    Typical BBC....Ken Clarke was right to say there are different rapes...but of course any rape is serious but as usual...the BBC's Labour Bias poltical team hound out Clarke and why do I need to think that Red Ed things when Red Ed has not even come out with policies......god help us if he ever gets in or Labour get back in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 56.

    Alan (54), Discuss? Okay. Two things here: 1. To say 'some rapes are more serious than others' is clearly true and (ought to be) uncontroversial. Just like, for example, some murders are more serious than others. 2. But to say 'there are different TYPES of rape', this is subtly different. It's the slippery slope to categorising, say, 'date rape' as inherently less serious. Thus problematical. Yes?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 55.

    Instead of trying to hound Clark out of office the media should now nail Milliband down on what his views and POLICIES are on this serious crime.Is he in favour of the maximum sentence (ie life) for all convictions? or does he believe the sentence should be linked to extenuating circumstances. Seems a straight forward question.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 54.

    Crime - unlawful killing of a child
    Sentence - 8 yrs min

    Case 1 - disabled child killed by parent no longer able to cope
    Case 2 - child killed by abuser

    Are both cases the same - yes, the child is dead

    Should the punishment be the same?

    In his own inimitable way Ken Clarke was saying no, one size does not fit all - seems perfectly sensible

    Discuss

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 53.

    The media has really dropped the ball here. If you listen to the interview, Ken Clarke was trying to describe 'statutory rape' but ended up muddling his definitions, an embarrassing mistake yes, but not a sackable one. The fact that Milliband the lesser tried to make political gain from it is outright deplorable. Emotive topics like rape always lead to a lot of hand wringing and silly behaviour.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 52.

    Mr Clarke's "sell by date" is up in terms of anything to do with Law and Order or the criminal Justice system.To follow the USA model in terms of plea bargaining etc is only to save money.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 51.

    @47 (cont) The point I am trying to get across but impossible with only 400char's is.......Is it better to accept a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence, or have the victim go through the trauma of giving evidence, and then see the case collapse. As a former Home Secretary Clark will have seen this many times.

 

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