Outrage as military judge says some accused of rape are 'good people'

Outrage as top military judge says some armed forces personnel accused of rape are ‘thoroughly good people’ who end up in court after ‘drinking too much’

  • Judge Advocate General Alan Large holds the military’s most senior legal role
  • He made comments during a Select Committee hearing on the Armed Forces Bill
  • He compared rape in the armed forces to students ‘ending up in the wrong bed’ 
  • The judge has been urged to consider his postion and resign over his comments

Judge Advocate General Alan Large (pictured) was urged to ‘consider his position’ after making the comments about rape  during a Select Committee hearing on the Armed Forces Bill

The military’s top judge is facing calls to resign after blaming rapes within the Armed Forces on ‘thoroughly good people’ drinking too much. 

Judge Advocate General Alan Large was urged to ‘consider his position’ after making the comments during a Select Committee hearing on the Armed Forces Bill.

It comes only days after the judge called for people in ‘rank and authority’ to ‘set an example’ and be ‘beyond reproach’ during his judgment on Major General Nick Welch who defrauded the taxpayer out of nearly £50,000.  

Military courts have been able to try rape and other serious offences since 2009, but figures show only one in ten rape cases result in conviction when they get to court martial.

This compares to nearly six in ten from prosecution to verdict in the criminal courts.

During the debate Judge Large said: ‘It would be quite interesting to look at the conviction rate for, let’s say, university students, who are usually thoroughly decent young people of good character.

‘They drink too much; they end up in the wrong bed. It goes to court. What is the conviction rate?

‘I would have thought it was about the same as the one we get, because our service people are thoroughly good people, but they drink too much, something goes wrong and they end up in court.’ 

His comments have provoked outrage and prompted calls for him to resign.  

Later, in evidence to the same Select Committee, Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird said: ‘I have to say I don’t know who said that quote about “our people” being the very best, and sometimes they get drunk and mistakes are made. 

‘But I hope it was nobody connected to the military justice system, because in it there is a presumption that the defendant has done no wrong.’

Judge Large holds the military’s most senior legal role since taking up the position in October. 

He is an independent member of the judiciary and not a member of the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed.  

Last week he was involved in the high profile court martial of Major General Nick Welch who was convicted of fraud by falsely claiming more than £48,000 in allowance to pay for his children’s school fees.

Questioning the poor conviction rate in military tribunals for rape and sexual assaults, Judge Large blamed rapes within the Armed Forces on ‘thoroughly good people’ drinking too much

Along with a panel of senior officers, Judge Large sentenced Welch – the highest ranking officer to face a court martial for more than 200 years – to 21 months jail time  at Bulford Military Court. 

Col Philip Ingram, of the Independent Defence Authority, told Mail Online: ‘On Thursday in his judgement of Major General Welch, Judge Large said: “A disciplined organisation such as the army relies on those in rank and authority to set an example and be beyond reproach”.

‘I don’t think how someone who is heading the service judicial system who is a man of words by very dint of his appointment, can get his words so wrong where they can be interpreted that he is excusing rape and serious sexual assault. 

Calling for him to ‘consider his position’ and resign, Col Ingram added: ‘There is no excuse. We have gone beyond that.’ 

In a letter after his appearance reported by The Sun, Judge Large said: ‘I was not seeking in any way to excuse, or minimise, sexual assault and rape because people were drunk.’ 

A MoD spokesperson said: ‘All sexual offences are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Armed Forces.’

‘We take each allegation very seriously, and anyone failing to meet the clear and high standards of behaviour required to serve in the Armed Forces will be dealt with robustly.’

‘The Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces is part of the judiciary and is independent of the MoD.’

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