Why hasn’t David Cameron sacked Bill Aitken?

At the start of the week Caron Lindsay blogged about the case of Conservative MSP Bill Aitken:

The Tories are usually very supportive of victims of crime … Unfortunately, their sympathy for victims doesn’t seem to extend to the crime of rape. Shadow Tory minister for Community Safety in the Scottish Parliament Bill Aitken has apparently asked the Sunday Herald whether a victim of an horrendous rape in Glasgow earlier this week was a prostitute. This woman was dragged down a lane by 3 men and raped. This was the latest in a series of similar assaults in Glasgow.

As the Sunday Herald reported of Bill Aitken,

Aitken has been a District Court Judge, Justice of the Peace and is a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow. He is also convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee – which helps formulates rape laws.

Police officers and women’s organisations reacted with outrage to his claims.

Detectives from Strathclyde Police are still hunting for three men of Middle Eastern appearance who dragged the 38-year-old woman off Renfield Street in the city centre and raped her in a lane as she headed home after a night out with friends just after midnight on Thursday. It is the fourth city-centre sex attack since Christmas. Police believe different gangs are responsible.

Asked to comment on the series of so-called “lane rapes”, Aitken said: “I really think we need to know a bit more about these. They are not always as they seem to be, put it that way.”…

Aitken also said a lot of rape allegations are falsely made by drunk women – but had no research to back this up…

When challenged on his comments by the Sunday Herald, Aitken denied making them until he read a transcript of the conversation.

Pressure has built during the week with the New Statesman getting hold of a leaked copy of that Bill Aitken transcript, which includes comments from him such as:

“Well, you always know there’s a lot more to these city-centre rapes than meet the eye, of course. But this does sound concerning.”

“Well, what is particularly noteworthy in this case is it’s three Asian people they are looking for. Now, Renfrew Lane is known as a place where things happen, put it that way.”

“How do you tell a Middle Eastern from an Asian?”

It has now been announced that Bill Aitken will retire at the next Scottish Parliament elections, but without an apology from him and with no disciplinary action in the interim from the Conservative Party. That falls far short of the sort of reaction his comments deserve.

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