Lawyers told to go easy on rape victims

September 25, 2007 - 11:31PM

Defence barristers have been told by the NSW government to stop intimidating rape victims in the witness box.

In a letter to the Bar Association, obtained by News Limited newspapers, NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said barristers should rein in their courtroom tactics.

"I've asked the bar to amend its own rules, to make it extremely clear to everyone involved in these types of trials that witnesses should not have to face embarrassing, harassing or intimidating questions," Mr Hatzistergos told News Limited.

If adopted, the new rules would require barristers to take into account the vulnerability of the witness and consider the damage their questions could cause.

Defence barristers would also have to refuse a client's instructions if they would result in the harassment of a witness.

Legal teams would have a duty to object to improper questions made by the other side and they would be trained in sexual assault trials.

Bar Association president Michael Slattery QC said the suggested changes were receiving serious consideration.

2007 AAP