A LABOUR pledge to give rape victims their own barrister in court was absent from Government plans published today.
Only relatives of murder and manslaughter victims will be eligible for their own so-called "victim's advocate" in the pilot phase of the project.
Labour indicated during the General Election campaign that barristers would be provided for a wider range of violent crime victims.
At the time the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, named rape victims as a group which would benefit.
But under today's plans only people affected by murder or manslaughter will be included.
Bereaved relatives will be able to make a personal statement in court about how a homicide has affected them and their families.
Alternatively, the statement could be read by an independent, legally- trained advocate provided by the state, a lay advocate or a Crown Prosecution Service barrister.
The statement would be given in court at the sentencing stage, after a defendant had been found guilty of the crime, and the measures will be tested in up to five areas.
The project could cost millions of pounds to introduce, at a time when Legal Aid budgets are under severe pressure.