Anonymity for rape defendants likely to be dropped

By Mary Stevens

An amendment to the sexual offences bill that would give anonymity to rape defendants is likely to be removed following its second reading, a Government spokesman has said.

But the spokesman also said the press and the police should debate the issue because of the concerns raised about the high-profile media coverage received by those wrongly accused of sexual violence.

The Newspaper Society has been campaigning against the amendment, arguing that it is at odds with the principles of open justice. Sue Oake, legal adviser at the NS, said: “We would be happy to play a very constructive role in any discussions.” The calls for a change to the law have been prompted by a number of cases in which a well-known person has been wrongly accused of rape, such as in the case of snooker player Quentin Hann and ex-Tory politician Neil Hamilton and his wife. The accuser is entitled to anonymity.

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