John Howell (Henley) (Con)
I hear what my right hon. Friend says, and I wonder whether he will take back to his constituent the heartfelt feelings of the House for the ordeal that she went through—please convey our best wishes to her. This is not something new or limited to this incident: there are plenty of examples of how the Crown Prosecution Service has not handled this sort of thing very well. I applaud him for what he is trying to do with this debate.
I thank my hon. Friend for coming today. He will find out that we are trying to do exactly what he said. My constituent is in the Public Gallery—not because she can change what has happened to her, but because we can try to change things for the future.
Does the Minister think there is an opportunity to refer this matter to the Victims' Commissioner? We have just appointed a new Victims' Commissioner, Vera Baird, and I wonder whether it would be useful to report this. She is responsible for ensuring equal performance across the whole gamut of the justice system.
The Solicitor General
I have already had the honour of liaising with Vera Baird, and I very much look forward to discussing this issue with her. The issue of consistency across police forces and the CPS, and within local authorities that deal with rape victims, is very important. We will be discussing these issues, and I am sure she will have considerable insight into them.