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Watch: Rayner and Raab spar on bullying claims and rape convictions

By Becky Morton

Political reporter

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has called on Dominic Raab to apologise to rape victims for his “failures” as justice secretary.

Ms Rayner, who was standing in for party leader Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs, said the charge rate for rape had “collapsed” under his watch to 1.6%.

Mr Raab said tackling rape was one of the government’s “top priorities”.

He added that it had increased funding for victims and cut the time taken from charge to completion of a case.

Pressing the justice secretary and deputy prime minister over rape convictions, Ms Rayner said: “Women feel unsafe on Britain’s streets, always looking over our shoulder as we hurry to our front door. Can he tell me under his watch as justice secretary, what is the charge rate for rape?”

Mr Raab replied: “She asks what we are doing about it, since 2019 police referrals of cases have doubled, CPS charges have doubled, she asks on my watch what has happened, the volume of convictions in rape cases has increased by two-thirds.”

He urged Labour to back planned parole reforms which would allow ministers to block the release of some prisoners, saying this would help “protect vulnerable women” and prevent rapists and perpetrators of other serious crimes from being released.

Ms Rayner hit back, saying: “He hasn’t answered my question because he is too ashamed of the answer: 1.6% of rapists faced being charged for their crime – 1.6%. Let that sink in.”

She added: “More than half-a-million cases of rape have been recorded by the police but the charge rate for those attacks have collapsed. He has served under five Tory prime ministers and had three years as justice minister and on his watch, rapists are left to roam the streets.

“So will he apologise to those victims who will never get justice because of his failures?”

What has happened to rape convictions?

Responding to questions about the numbers of people convicted for rape, Dominic Raab said: “The conviction rate has gone up – it’s now at 69%.”

The conviction rate is the proportion of people prosecuted who end up being convicted.

It turns out that 69% was the figure for April to June 2022 – it fell a bit in the months after that but was still over 60%.

But Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner responded: “69% of 1.6% – is that really something to boast about?”

The 1.6% is the proportion of rapes recorded by police that led to someone being charged or ordered to appear in court in England and Wales in the year to September 2022.

Ms Rayner also used PMQs to raise the ongoing bullying inquiry against Mr Raab and urged him to “walk before he’s pushed”.

Mr Raab is facing eight formal complaints over his behaviour during his time as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and his first stint as justice secretary.

The investigation, which was launched by the prime minister in November and is being led by senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC, is expected to conclude soon.

Ms Rayner said: “This week the government announced their so-called anti-social behaviour policy, it’s only taken 13 years and, look I’ll give him some credit, the deputy prime minister knows first hand the misery caused by thugs and their intimidating behaviour.

“Lurking with menace, exploding in fits of rage, creating a culture of fear and maybe even, I don’t know, throwing things. So can I ask him under his new anti-social behaviour [policy] does he think more bullies will be brought to justice?”

Referring to comments made by Ms Rayner in 2021, when she described Conservatives as “scum”, Mr Raab replied: “I can reassure the House that I’ve never called anyone scum.”

He has previously strongly denied allegations of bullying and insisted he has “behaved professionally throughout”.

The pair were deputising for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir, who were both attending the funeral of former Commons speaker Baroness Betty Boothroyd.

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