Daily Mail push to name false rape allegation woman

The Daily Mail this week said "means must be found" to remove the anonymity of a woman whose false rape accusation led to a man being wrongly imprisoned for more than three years.

Warren Blackwell was cleared this week in the Appeal Court after a review found that the woman who had accused him had a long history of making unfounded claims of sexual offences.

The Mail ran the story on the front page, along with a pixelated photograph explaining that the law has no provisions for overturning the right to lifetime anonymity granted to complainants in sexual offences.

The Sexual Offenses (Amendment) Act 1992 and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 grant lifetime anonymity to complainants of most sexual offences and the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice says papers shouldn't publish material likely to contribute to the identification of the victim of a sex offence.

Since 1988, there has been no right to anonymity for defendants in rape trials.

The Daily Mail gave more details about the woman than other papers and identified her by the first letter of her surname and age. The paper also named a former partner of "Miss A".

It reported that Blackwell had been convicted with no forensic evidence after "Miss A", a former girlfriend of his uncle, picked him out of a police line-up after alleging indecent assault on New Year's Day in 1999.

But the Criminal Cases Review Commission discovered that "Miss A" had lied and heard evidence that her injuries had been self-inflicted.

The review also found that she had made at least five other unfounded allegations of sexual and physical assault.

In its leader, the paper said that it had lead a campaign in the 1970s for a change in the law to allow victims of alleged sexual offences anonymity.

It said: "The campaign was to protect the genuine victims of genuine crimes. In the name of common sense, a means must be found before she puts another innocent man through torment."

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