Ealing vicarage rape victim and sexual violence campaigner Jill Saward dies aged 51

Sexual violence campaigner Jill Saward has died aged 51.

The vicar's daughter became the first rape victim to waive her anonymity when she was raped at her home at the age of 21 in 1986.

The attack received widespread attention and condemnation, not just because of the crime, but because Judge Mr Justice Leonard in the subsequent trial said that her trauma had "not been so great".

Ms Saward went on to write a book about her attack, which became known as the Ealing Vicarage Rape, and campaigned to end violence against women.

One of her recent fights was against a proposal which would give people accused of rape anonymity until they are convicted, which she believed implied victims are lying.

Under anonymity rules at the time of her case, she was not allowed to know the name of her rapist until the court hearing, and said the shock distracted her from concentrating on the evidence she had to give.

Ms Saward once wrote she had no issues with being labelled a rape victim, saying: "I make no complaint about this tag as it has enabled me to challenge politicians and work for change."

Jill, pictured in 1994 at a course designed to show the effects of violent crime. Credit: PA

A statement from her family posted on her website said: "It is with deep shock and great sadness that we must announce that Jill Saward (Jill Drake) died this morning in New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, following a subarachnoid haemorrhage on Tuesday. She was 51-years old.

"In consultation with medical staff, the family readily agreed to Jill's desire to be an organ donor.

"Jill dedicated the past 30 years of her life to helping other people. It gives us great comfort to know that our wonderful wife, mother and sister was able to help other people to the very end."

Alison Boydell, who co-founded campaign group Jurors Understanding Rape Is Essential Standard (Juries) with Ms Saward, said: "I am overwhelmed with sadness that Juries co-founder and friend, Jill Saward died this morning.

"Jill was an indefatigable advocate for victim-survivors of sexual violence and dedicated her life to campaigning and raising awareness of rape and sexual violence.

"I miss her terribly. I will do everything in my power to ensure that her work on Juries was not in vain and that victim-survivors get justice."

Jill Saward comforting the mother of a teenage rape victim. Credit: PA

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said in a statement: "I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jill Saward.

"Her tireless campaigning opened the eyes of many politicians and helped to ensure that victims are now placed at the heart of the criminal justice system.

"It was only after the attack on Jill Saward that victims were permitted to challenge unreasonably low sentences; the unduly lenient sentence scheme has enabled victims, their family members and the general public to request that sentences are reviewed and, where necessary, increased."

Friend and fellow campaigner Kate Cook, who is a law lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, said Jill Saward was "always willing to go and talk to people to try and change views", and commended her "tireless" campaigning.