Naming the accused before they are formally charged breaches the rules of natural justice and has wrecked lives
The injustice suffered by Cliff Richard in 2017 defied the maxim “words can never hurt you”. Anonymously accused of a sex crime, his good name was devastated by a publicity-seeking police force in collusion with a scoop-seeking BBC. Both later admitted fault and the BBC paid damages.
Similar calumny was visited on other public figures, including the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, former MP Harvey Proctor and assorted VIPs, their names apparently culled from the newspapers and declared “credible” by a gullible London police. The police thus became judge and jury in effectively punishing people for a crime of which none had been convicted or even charged. Prosecutors subsequently apologised to both Gambaccini and Proctor.
The feeding frenzy of the internet is terrifying enough already without being fed by the British justice system
All victims of rape and other sex crimes in England and Wales, including children, are automatically guaranteed anonymity for life from the moment they make a complaint that they are the victim of a sex crime. The law is different in Scotland, but the practice of respecting anonymity is the same. It is a criminal offence to publish the complainant's identity or any information that might lead to them being identified.
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