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Defence lawyers have obligation to 'robustly defend' clients accused of sex crimes but 'rape myths' have no place in court – top barrister

Defence lawyers have a responsibility to "robustly defend" those accused of sexual assault but  "rape myths" have no place in the courtroom, a leading defence lawyer says.

Annabel Cresswell who has defended over 20 sexual assault cases told TVNZ1's Breakfast defence lawyers want to make the court process easier for sexual assault complainants.

"We are aware of toxic masculinity and we are aware of rape myths and we are trying to work with the courts and with the law to make the complaints stay in court easier," she said.

Ms Cresswell says defence lawyers don't employ "rape myths" in court.

"I would never argue that myself and I don’t know any defence lawyers who do try and argue and use those rape myths anymore," she says.

"It doesn't serve anyone to be attacking woman and to be buying into these rape myths and we're not doing it."

But Ms Cresswell says the defence lawyers still have a job to do.

"We do have to defend our client and we do have to cross-examine them. The client has a right to a robust defence.

"You need to allow defence layers to do their jobs, test and challenge the evidence and trust us that we are trying to do our best to make the day in court easier for the complainant."

She says attitudes are changing, "we are getting there and we are doing our absolute best, nobody wants to see complainants have a terrible day in court."

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Defence lawyers have an obligation to do their best to defend those accused the crime, Annabel Cresswell says. Source: Breakfast