MSP says rape case reveals “huge gaps” in university sexual assault guidelines

By Lucy Ashton

Pam Gosal MSP has written to the SNP Government to raise concerns over “huge gaps” in sexual assault policies at Scottish universities after a rape victim was given no explanation about why her abuser was admitted to Edinburgh University.

Daniel McFarlane, who had been a student at Glasgow University, was jailed for five years over two rape convictions in July 2022, was admitted to Edinburgh University despite being under police investigation.

The survivor of his crimes, Ellie Wilson, waived her right to anonymity to challenge the difficulties she has faced while seeking justice.

She has uncovered that Scottish universities have no national guidance for dealing with sexual assault investigations, which has been confirmed by Scottish Conservative MSP Pam Gosal.

More than a year after her abuser transferred from Glasgow University to Edinburgh University, Ms Wilson has received no explanation about why that was allowed to happen.

After meeting with Universities Scotland alongside Ms Wilson, Pam Gosal has now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, higher education minister Jamie Hepburn, and every Scottish university to demand that strong guidelines on sexual assault are introduced immediately.

First Minister Sturgeon, Shirley Anne Somerville and Conservative MSP Pam Gosal.

Pam Gosal MSP said: “There are clearly huge gaps in sexual assault policies at Scottish universities and how criminal cases are handled.

“The Scottish Government must work with universities and fast-track the immediate introduction of a comprehensive plan for dealing with sexual assault investigations.

“The system must help survivors, not add further pain to their lives. It also must protect the public from dangerous criminals, not give sexual predators the chance to commit more offences.

“I want to thank Ellie for her brave campaign to bring about change, so that other people don’t experience the same trauma she has gone through. Her voice must be heard by those in power.

“The SNP Government and Scottish universities must listen to survivors like Ellie and introduce clear-cut guidelines for incidents and cases of sexual assault.”

Ellie Wilson said: “Universities cannot meaningfully claim they are committed to student safety if they willingly let rapists on campus.

“By letting my rapist on to their campus while he was awaiting trial, Edinburgh University endangered their own students and significantly added to my own trauma and distress.

“University policy regarding the admission of sex offenders needs a complete overhaul, the safety of students must be paramount.”

Top of page picture: University of Glasgow

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