20.11.03

Anonymity in Rape cases

As the Criminal Justice Bill gets tossed between the Lords and the Commons in the final throws of this Parliamentary session, one key concession has been made regarding the naming of defendants in rape cases.

The Lords had moved to grant defendants in rape cases pre-tiral anonymity up until they were charged - something that might have helped the likes of John Leslie (who the courts acquitted insisting there was absolutely no stain on his character).

The Government along with many others, notably the press, was opposed to the idea and yesterday succeeded in having an anonymity clause dropped from the Sex Offences Bill.

The regulation of naming defendants has therefore been vested in the police and media.

Junior Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins stated that the Government recognised the concern that is caused by damaging publicity in such cases but thought that 'informed and strengthened guidance' to police and media was preferable to any change in legislation.

This concern was highlighted in the recent rape allegations involving footballers at a Mayfair hotel. The Attorney General urged editors to show some restraint as both accused and accuser mobilised their own PR campaigns before any charges were even brought.

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