Further to my last point I feel I need to clarify a point that has just been made to me by someone who has read it.
If Kenneth Clarke had said that certain individual cases of rape are worse than others I doubt there would have much protest or comment. What Kenneth Clarke instead appeared to say was that there are different categories of rape each with a different definition (thus “date rape”, “serious rape” etc). As I said in my previous post this is simply wrong.
I do not know whether Kenneth Clarke meant to say what he did. Probably he did not though the surprisingly long time it took him to apologise and withdraw his comments does make me wonder. The thought did cross my mind that he might be thinking of changing the law to redefine certain offences such as rape with a view to reducing sentences. If so it is just possible that he was floating a trial balloon though in that case he did it in an astonishingly inept way and I would say that where rape is concerned I for one would strongly oppose such a reform. Against that is the fact that Kenneth Clarke has something of a reputation for being a loose cannon and for talking freely without thinking through what he is saying. I remember that he once bragged that he had not bothered to read the text of a European treaty he was supporting even though such a comment was bound to antagonise even further the powerful anti European element in his party. Having said this he is a Queen’s Cousnsel, a part time Judge and the Justice Minister and one would have thought that on the issue of rape he would know what he is talking about.