Sex offences: do suspects need anonymity?
Pop star Cliff Richard has gathered more than 10,000 signatures for a petition calling for a change in the law regarding those suspected of sexual offences. Sir Cliff was in the headlines for years after false accusations of abuse and is calling for anonymity for suspects until they are charged. The British press is divided over the initiative.
Secrecy not the solution
Suspects must be named so as to encourage other victims to press charges, The Sun argues:
“Had paedophile TV star Stuart Hall not been named on his arrest he might have swatted away the three claims against him and lived on as a national treasure. Publicity triggered a flood of new accusations, proving a pattern of behaviour. … The answer must not be an affront to open justice which risks the guilty getting away with crimes. It is for police to be less credulous as they sort fantasists from victims, to charge or clear suspects far more rapidly and to punish all false accusers. Secrecy is not the solution.”
The accused deserve more protection
False accusations have destroyed the lives of many innocent people, writes The Guardian in defence of the pop star's initiative:
“The case for instantly revealing the identity of the accused is poor. It is that other witnesses might recognise the name and come forward, thus aiding the prosecution in proceeding to a charge. That might apply to any crime. In the case of sex crimes, the clear risk is of massive reputational damage. ... Victims have included doctors, executives, the clergy, many ordinary people who have found their name stained, and lost their jobs and families.”