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Case

She said #MeToo. Now she’s being sued.

Twelve years ago, Nina Cresswell was sexually assaulted whilst walking home after a night out. At 6 am the next morning she reported the matter to the police who interviewed her at home and quickly closed the investigation. They recorded that no crime had been committed.

Ten years later, when the MeToo movement emboldened women to tell their stories, Nina told hers. She had felt guilty about not having warned other women about him in 2010 and wanted to warn them now. In 2020 she told the story of her sexual assault on Telegra.ph (an anonymous blogging site) and sent it privately to a few friends. The man who had assaulted her had a job which meant he came into frequent contact with women and so she sent her blog post to the owner of the man’s workplace. When it became clear nothing would happen, she told the story on social media.

Days later she received a letter from his lawyers threatening to sue her for libel and claiming: “Our client has met you once in his life. You danced and chatted in groups but that was all that happened between you. Your account of what supposedly happened on your way home is neither credible nor true”. And he sued. In his formal arguments he now admits being with Nina alone but continues to maintain she has made up the assault.

Nina’s story is a double tragedy. Being sued for telling her story scores wound upon wound.

The criminal justice system fails to deter rape and sexual violence. It betrays victims and it betrays those who will become victims because men remain free to offend. Bringing civil claims against rapists is often difficult – for the same reason that defending defamation cases is difficult – because there is often a basic conflict of evidence. But women must be able to speak out to protect others from harm.

We believe Nina – we believe she has a good defence of truth. And there is some corroborating evidence. But, if she cannot prove that she was assaulted, we believe it is important to try and establish a public interest defence for women who speak out, responsibly and reasonably, about a rape or sexual assault. If she loses on truth, this case will help establish when victims can rely on a public interest defence.

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