Rape convict seeking return to Scotland loses anonymity bid

A rapist who tried to prevent journalists from reporting his name today lost his appeal for anonymity.

Stephen Fagan, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire claimed naming him would make his family a “target of hostility”.

However the Court of Appeal dismissed the anonymity bid claiming there was nothing in his case to overrule the principle of open justice.

The convicted rapist, who is in his 40s was convicted of two rapes and using a date-rape drug following a court case in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2006.

Fagan took the legal action earlier this year to prevent news of his release on licence being reported by newspapers in Airdrie.

He said he wanted to return to Scotland once he is released on licence and needed anonymity to protect his family from becoming a “target of hostility”. His legal team said there was also a need to “prevent the risk of violence”.

The High Court ruled in June that Fagan could be named by the media although put a stay on the order until the Court of Apeal considered the case.

Lord Justice Aikins published his decision on the case this morning.

"In my view there is nothing in the position of Stephen Fagan himself as an offender which could justify any derogation from the general principle.

"His trial was public and his conviction and sentence were public knowledge. It would be known to the public that, after he had served half his sentence in prison, he would be released on licence and under the management of the probation service.

"In those respects Stephen Fagan's position is no different from any other prisoner.

"Many defendants convicted of serious crimes also have wives or partners and children; and they are often young children.

"The possibility of a hostile reaction against the family of an offender who has committed a serious sexual or violent offence must be general.

"Again, in that respect, Stephen Fagan is in no different position from other serious offenders who must be released at some stage if they have been given a determinate sentence.

"In my judgment, the fact that Stephen Fagan wished to be released in Scotland as opposed to England is not material.

"The same type of hostile press campaign and attempt to apply the pressure of public opinion might be attempted … in trying to ensure that an offender is not released in one particular community rather than another within England. That factor cannot be a justification for a derogation from the general rule of open justice."

Fagan’s defence team led by Hugh Southey QC argued there was no general public interest about where offenders are resettled upon their release from prison.

The double rapist has a separate legal action against the Ministry of Justice to allow him to move to Scotland upon his release from prison in England.

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