Three weeks after his alleged arrest The Sun today became the first mainstream news organisation to name Rolf Harris as an Operation Yewtree suspect.
Harris was first interviewed under caution in November and since then journalists have been camped out near his Berkshire home.
The Sun (and now also the BBC and others) reports that Harris was arrested on 28 March. Up until now national news organisations have stuck only to the official police statement that “an 82 year-old man from Berkshire was arrested by officers on Operation Yewtree on suspicion of sexual offences”.
News of Harris' arrest was first broken three weeks ago on the Order-Order blog (which was also first to report that he had been questioned).
Police have declined to confirm the identity of the 82-year-old suspect leaving news organisations open to the threat of libel action – and potentially a huge payout – if they are wrong. Press Gazette understands that lawyers acting for Harris have issued legal warnings to publishers.
The Association of Chief Police Officers is currently considering issuing nationwide guidance to police forces urging them not to reveal the names of arrested individuals to the media.
But it has been argued that in the Jimmy Savile case, and in others, many more witnesses have come forward as a result of media publicity around the name of a suspect.