Liam Allan was accused of rape. However, the case against him collapsed and was thrown out of court after it emerged that a detective had failed to hand over text messages on the accuser’s phone – seriously undermining the case.
The 22-year-old law student is now considering suing the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Here, he writes for Sky News about his experience, and his attempt put the two-year ordeal behind him and rebuild his life.
During the case, my overwhelming feeling was frustration – you feel like you’re putting your life in someone else’s hands. You’re in a permanent state of shock and you just can’t get out of it because you can’t believe it’s happened to you. You’re forced to try to find a way to deal with it. You try to live normally, but it’s not normal.
I was arrested in front of my mum at her home and taken into the station. When you know you’re innocent, you just think it will be so easy to find the evidence to prove it. But it’s different when it’s one word against another. And while the police are trying to prove the accuser’s word, no one is really out looking for evidence to support what you’re saying. It feels like everything you say is just being used to compare.
The whole point of court is that you’re made to feel intimidated and frightened, and I completely understand that. It has to be intimidating because if not then no one’s going to be scared of the police or the criminal justice system itself. But every step you go through the more you feel you are losing a part of yourself.
You are sat in a box, away from your family. I had to make the decision whether I wanted people close to me – like my mum – to be my support in the courtroom or a character reference for my case. You can’t do both. Sometimes you have to sacrifice having someone who is close to you in court, sometimes you have to sacrifice a character reference – it’s just a choice you have to make.
It took me four or five hours of torture to decide, but I finally decided I wanted my mum to be a character reference. I knew she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she wasn’t a character reference and proactively helping my case.
On the second day in court I discovered my accuser was going to be present in the courtroom. Up until that day I had been told she would appear on a video link, and that was what I had prepared myself for. Seeing someone on video is a lot less emotional than having someone in the same room as you. You have to fight every outburst. You just want to say: “What are you doing? Why don’t you stop this going further?” Instead, you have to sit there and listen to someone slating your character, lying in the worst possible way about you and making you out to be this person that you know you’re not.
When the case collapsed, I felt extremely lucky. Everyone keeps asking me how it feels now it’s over, but it’s not – I’m just fighting a different battle now. I feel like I’ve got to tackle three different battles, on three different fronts.
I feel like I need to work to regain my personal life, fight for my relationships with my friends and family and the people I love and also to deal with the threat of the reaction to the case – to any possible retaliation.
I really don’t wish any harm on anyone involved in the case, it’s simply not part of me. I refuse to let this experience make me bitter and vengeful and start wishing harm on people – it’s not in my interest.
University is supposed to be the best years of your life, but I’ve spent two years in fear. I worry that if I put one foot out of line, even if it’s not my fault, it could land me into all sorts of trouble. It means I’m always thinking about anything that could possibly damn my character more than this situation has.
I’m hoping to get back to university and back to work now, and in my ideal world I’d get to get back to my normal life. But I also feel I need to do something to fight cases like this from behind the scenes.
I can’t stress enough, that it’s not individual people or a sole department that needs to be held responsible, I think there’s a collective responsibility somewhere. There are lots of things that went wrong and multiple factors that contributed to it.
I would love to work with them (the Crown Prosecution Service and police), and to tell them my story properly. To go through the system with them step by step and see how it’s supposed to work and I can tell them where it didn’t where it didn’t from a personal perspective.
Mr Allan now plans to talk to MPs, and is hoping to use his experience to change the system of investigating rape and sexual offences.
The Metropolitan Police are now holding an urgent review into Mr Allan’s case.