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I accused Paul Weller of rape.. but I don't think he should've been named; EXCLUSIVE ON INNOCENT STAR'S ORDEAL.


IN an extraordinary interview, the woman who alleged that she was raped by rock star Paul Weller agrees that his name has been tarnished by her accusation.

"The way the law stands at the moment is wrong," she says. "No way should Paul Weller have been publicly named and shamed.

"I wasn't aware that he would be so exposed. Naively perhaps, I was shocked by the amount of coverage it got and I felt bad about that.

"I'm left in little doubt that people view me as some sort of vixen. That's for them to decide.

"I did what I felt I had to do and I can live with that. What I can't accept is that he had to be named. To me that wasn't justice.

"Weller himself said that while he understood the need for anonymity, it should be extended to both parties in such cases, especially prior to any criminal charges being brought.

"He's absolutely right. No one should be condemned until they have been proven guilty."

Arrested almost two months ago, shortly before embarking on a sell-out tour, the millionaire singer, who started his career with The Jam, called for a change in the law when charges against him were dropped.

"My name has been tainted," he said angrily at the time. "Even though there is no substance in the allegation. Rape is despicable and to be accused of this crime has been one of the most depressing moments of my life.

"I doubt very much that the news of my innocence will make the same headlines as the story of my arrest."

He was, of course, absolutely correct, it made a few paragraphs.

The subsequent arrest of former Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall two weeks ago on an alleged rape charge - which was dropped after 24 hours - brought the issue of naming the accused sharply into focus and prompted a Mirror campaign to change the draconian laws in Britain.

It has won widespread backing, but perhaps the most astonishing support comes from Weller's accuser herself, a 37-year-old office worker who wishes to keep her identity a secret for fear of reprisals.

"He was exposed," she said, "and that was cruel, not just on him but his family, after all he has three children. What on earth must it have been like for them having to go to school everyday?

"As I read the reports about his arrest, I kept wondering what they must be going through seeing his name splashed all over the papers.

"That's not what I wanted and I regret that it turned out that way.

"I'm not a spiteful person at all but people must think I am. It's not my fault. The law is responsible.

"Of course, having a degree of fame makes it worse for people like Paul Weller, but it's just as hard in a small community for ordinary blokes to be identified and their names bandied about for a crime they may be innocent of." It was in October this year that she left her flat and walked into her local police station and calmly announced: "I've been raped."

Officers are said to have listened in stunned silence as she claimed Weller had sexually assaulted her at a party in Farnham, Surrey, late in 1996.

"Actually," she says, "the police were wonderful to me. It was an odd situation given the time lapse. They might have written me off as a nutter but in reality they couldn't have been more helpful or attentive. They could tell that I was very nervous about what I was doing."

An attractive woman, she doesn't immediately strike one as being a fantasist or remotely flaky.

THE word 'victim' doesn't spring to mind either. Her background is working class and as she says herself, she's "ordinary" and not one to hang around the rock scene.

Of her relationship with Weller she admits to "knowing him slightly through mates" hence their meeting at a party.

"The picture that's been painted of me is one of some sort of deranged fan," she says.

"And it's true, in the week that charges against Weller were dropped I said as much. It didn't seem right to me that an innocent man's name should be besmirched by an anonymous woman.

"Do I strike you as a mad deranged woman?" she said. "I just think myself lucky that no one knows who I am or what I look like. God only knows what my life would have been like these past few weeks if they had.

"Strangely perhaps that's why I feel sorry for Paul and why I feel I have to say something.

"As it is, it's taken all my courage and the constant nagging of my mates to put my story across, at least what I'm legally permitted to tell you. "Only a few close friends and my family know that it was me who made the allegations against him.

"I don't broadcast the news because you can never be sure how people might react.

"I didn't go to work and say, 'hey, that woman was me'. Nor do I tell boyfriends what I've done, they'd probably back off.

"What was really weird was seeing Hucknall face the same charges. It suddenly brought home to me why people were pointing the finger at me, the unnamed accuser.

"It doesn't look too good does it, an ordinary girl who looks as if she's got it in for a rock star?

"I know no one knows who I am really, but it's changed my life. I've seen the legal system in operation in this country and I'm not impressed.

"But what can you do? Apart from get on with your life.

"That's all I can do now."


IDENTITY CRISIS: Weller's accuser, posed here by a model, says he should not have been named
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2000

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