Nearly 30 years ago, the award-winning radio host and political pundit Iain Dale was subjected to a traumatic sexual assault – yet only now is he talking about his experience publicly.
Dale was in his late 20s, had not come out as gay and had only just become sexually active. “It was an attempted rape,” he told the Observer. “It lasted about 45 minutes in a very disgusting flat I had gone to with this man I met in a pub in north London. If I had not been six feet two inches tall and weighed 15 stone, I would not have succeeded in pushing him off.”
He decided to open up about the assault after talking with writer Bonnie Greer, who had told him about her “date rape” 40 years ago. She told him it was important for men to talk about their own sexual assaults.
Dale, who has presented his LBC radio show for a decade, refers to the incident in his new book Why Can’t We All Just Get Along… “He kept trying to kiss me,” he writes. “I kept pulling away. He made it clear that he intended to fuck me and that he would not take no for an answer. I made it very clear that this was not going to happen. Repeatedly. Luckily I was just as strong as him and could fend him off. Someone else might not have been able to do so.”
Dale escaped mainly because his attacker was drunk and became sleepy. But he then had to find the key to the flat as he had been locked in.
Statistics show there are many more reports of sexual assault or rape by women than men. Perhaps controversially, Dale says that “society also sees sexual assault on a woman as more serious than on a man”.
He now feels that he should have mentioned his experience when he was discussing male rape on his radio show in 2015. “We had hundreds of men trying to get on air,” he says.
“I’m always surprised by how many people can open up about emotional issues and sexual trauma on the radio.”
He admits in his book that “it was an hour during which I should have been more honest that I, too, was once the victim of a sexual assault, which could have turned into something far worse”. Yet it never occurred to him back in the early 1990s to report his assault to the police.
Dale writes in his book, which is published on Thursday: “It is often still very difficult for victims of sexual crime to come forward, especially when there is no prospect of conviction. They also blame themselves. There is a feeling of shame. And embarrassment.”
Dale, who married his long-time partner John Simmons five years ago, told the Observer: “The police then would not have been sympathetic and, perhaps more to the point, I had not come out as gay. Also, even now, male pride holds back a lot of men with such experiences, while others feel that their masculinity has been taken away by such attacks.” In his part memoir/part polemic, Dale writes about being gay. “I knew I was different from the age of seven or eight. I have no doubt that I was born gay yet I find it bizarre that some people find this hard to accept. There are some misguided souls who believe people choose to be gay.
“There are also teachers out there who are still reluctant to talk about homosexuality for fear of section 28, even though this was removed under Tony Blair.”
Dale, who stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament in 2003 – when he was the first Tory candidate to be open about their homosexuality – states in his book: “I have no doubt I would now be an MP if it were not for me being gay.”