Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry has written to the Lord Chancellor to express ‘serious concern’ after a defence counsel in the Banbury grooming trial referred to the child abuse victims as ‘slags’.
Five men and a 17-year-old were last week found guilty of child sex offences in Banbury following an eight-week trial at Oxford Crown Court.
It has been reported that during the trial Michael Magarian QC, one of the counsel for the defence, suggested the victims claimed abuse because: “it is better to be a victim than a slag”. It is claimed that he added: “Once you are a victim who has been groomed, you no longer have to take any responsibility for anything that you did.”
Mr Magarian also alleged the case was ‘a police manufactured case’ and suggested the child victims could have been ‘brain-washed by social workers’.
In his letter to Chris Grayling, Lord Chancellor and secretary of state for justice, Sir Tony said: “As you will know, one of the challenges for social workers and the police is to win the confidence and the trust of children who have been groomed and who have been victims of sexual exploitation, and to provide children who have been sexually abused with the support and protection needed whilst building evidence to bring their abusers to justice.”
He added: “The comments of the defence counsel cause me serious concern. As a member of the Bar myself, I know that defence counsel have a duty to put their client’s case to the court. However, I cannot envisage any circumstances in which it is appropriate for members of the English Bar to describe victims of child abuse as “slags”.
“I cannot envisage any circumstances in which it is appropriate for members of the English Bar to describe victims of child abuse as ‘slags’.”Sir Tony Baldry
“That senior members of the Bar should be allowed to suggest to the jury that the child victims in the Banbury case were to blame for what happened to them is, I suggest, totally wrong”.
He urged the Lord Chancellor to consider the points raised and has copied the letter to the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Education, the chairman of the Bar Council, the chairman of the Bar Standards Board and to the Prime Minister.
On the website of Dyers Chambers, Mr Magarian is described as ‘a fearless defending advocate who prides himself upon standing shoulder to shoulder with his client’.
He was counsel in the initial Damilola Taylor murder trial in which his client was acquitted. He has acted in many organised crime cases and has led in many murder trials, both before and after taking silk.
A spokesman at Dyers Chambers said Mr Magarian will not be commenting on Sir Tony’s letter to the Lord Chancellor.