Rapist policeman’s victims win support in fight for compensation

Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson is supporting the victims of Stephen Mitchell (below).
Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson is supporting the victims of Stephen Mitchell (below).
Have your say

A POLITICIAN has vowed to help rape victims who have been denied compensation.

Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Sunderland South and Houghton, spoke out after it was revealed some of those sexually assualted by Pc Stephen Mitchell (pictured) had their applications rejected.

Stephen Mitchell

Stephen Mitchell

The victims, including a Wearside woman, were prisoners targeted by the Northumbria officer because they were drug addicts who could be made to do what he wanted.

The 42-year-old was jailed for life last year.

Many of the women made claims to the Government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), but have been told they will not get compensation because they have criminal records.

Now Mrs Phillipson has promised to help the victims overturn the decisions.

“These cases are appalling, but they are not the only ones I have become aware of since I was elected,” she said.

“I will be taking this up with the Ministry of Justice.

“I worry that there isn’t sufficient scrutiny of the work of the CICA.

“Victims don’t always appear to be judged on a case-by-case basis.”

Mrs Phillipson said she believed financial pressures could influence CICA decisions not to award compensation.

“They are facing cuts of £10million in their budget this year, and it’s likely that things will get worse,” she said.

Also seeking to help Mitchell’s victims is Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah.

She said: “It seems to me that these women have been twice betrayed by the UK criminal system.

“I can understand that there may well be circumstances in which it is appropriate to deny victim compensation to those who have criminal records, but these women have been violated by a policeman and a conviction for shoplifting shouldn’t prevent them being recognised as victims.”

CICA is run by the Ministry of Justice. It makes payments ranging from £1,000 for relatively minor assaults to £500,000 for a victim who has been paralysed.

Rape victims usually receive £11,000, unless they have suffered severe injuries in the attack.

A CICA spokesman confirmed compensation claims can be refused “if a person has unspent criminal convictions ... based on the seriousness of the offence and how long ago it was committed”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman added: “The Government is providing more than £8million to specialist support groups this year, as well as £38million to Victim Support to help vulnerable victims of crime.”