09:30, May 31 249 0 theguardian.com

2017-05-31 09:30:03
Tory candidate's blogposts on rape 'absolutely shocking'

A Conservative candidate in a key marginal seat has said a woman’s “promiscuity” is relevant in determining how likely it is that she consented to sex in alleged rape cases.

Peter Cuthbertson, who is seeking election as the Tory candidate in Darlington, expressed a series of controversial views in a prominent blog he wrote in the early 2000s.

He praised a “courageous priest jailed in Sweden for preaching against homosexuality” and wrote several blogposts about rape claims, including one arguing against proposals to make men prove they obtained consent before sex and restrictions on bringing up a woman’s sexual history in court.

He wrote in 2002: “New laws proposed by the government to cash in on public sympathy over the Ulrika Jonsson rape case will now require that men accused of date rape prove they ensured the woman in question gave her consent. In other words, any man who cannot prove his innocence will be convicted.

“Worse, defendants will now be restricted in bringing up the woman’s sexual history. Of course, it is relevant how promiscuous a woman is in determining how likely it was she consented.

“Some say - rightly - that it is unfair that the defendant should have his own sexual history kept secret but the victim have hers brought up in court. But this lack of symmetry can best be tackled by examining the sexual history of both defendant and accuser, rather than neither.”

He argued that a “woman of low morals is more likely to consent to sex, and to lie” and concluded that “all the sympathy in the world should be extended to women who have been raped, but men who are falsely accused of this crime are equally the victims here”.

The 33-year-old, a public affairs consultant, who has previously worked for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is in a tight race to overturn a 3,158 majority held by Labour’s Jenny Chapman in Darlington. The Conservative Commentary blogs were written when he was a university student aged around 18 to 20years old.

One of them opines on the problem of “diseased children of diseased morals” in a piece about sexually transmitted disease infection rates among young people.

Cuthbertson wrote: “I can say with absolute certainty that 99% of the girls in question will know exactly how to use various contraceptives. The reason they don’t on the whole seem to bother is the same as the reason they mate like animals in the first place: no one hopes for or demands anything better from them than that they conform to the most base instincts for instant gratification, whatever the morality of their actions and whatever the consequences.”

In a separate plea for more morality in society, he suggested one of the answers was more guns. “The more influence morality has over a man’s conduct, the less need there is for the state to control it. Crime can be reduced by many police, many laws, tougher sentences and more guns,” he wrote.

Another post claimed that “left-wing students, pensioners, nurses, doctors, teachers, local council workers and so on seem to conduct never-ending campaigns to seize more money from other people”, made the case for hanging killers and suggested that those who do not treat foetuses as unique human lives are “wilfully ignorant scientifically”.

Asked by the Guardian whether he still held his views on an array of topics in these postings, Cuthbertson pointed out his youth at the time of writing the blog and said he “definitely does not have all the same views as my adolescent self”.

“I didn’t actually have an Afro at the time, but my views have certainly changed on a number of issues since I was a teenager in 2002,” he said. “I recall I was supportive of military intervention in Iraq and of Section 28 then - not positions I now hold.

“On my views today, I strongly support the Conservative party manifesto. On crime, I support much tougher prison sentences for rape, for hate crimes and for other serious, prolific offenders. I think Labour’s policy of halving the prison population would mean many more rapists and other serious criminals on our streets. But of course I think someone is innocent until proven guilty. On free vote issues, I back a lower limit for abortion. I can imagine backing legislation in favour of the death penalty for terrorists like the Manchester bomber but it would have to be very carefully worded for me to support it.

But Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s national election coordinator, said the blog posts were “absolutely shocking”.

“Peter Cuthbertson clearly has no place in parliament and should stand down immediately. Theresa May should be far more careful about picking who should be in her supposed team,” he said.