Soc Eds: Stuart Hall case underlines need for publicity around sex attack prosecutions

Broadcaster Stuart Hall’s admission of guilt today over 14 charges of sexual assault underlines the need for publicity around those accused of sexual offences, according to the Society of Editors.

Executive director Bob Satchwell said: “With the recent upsurge of calls for offenders to rename anonymous until convicted, it is worth noting that if Stuart Hall had not been named when he was arrested he might never have been brought to court. None of his victims knew one another.

“And now one police force is refusing to name people who have been charged. There is a huge danger of secret justice replacing rights of the public, and indeed defendants, back to Magna Carta. It is time someone put a stop to this frightening trend.”

ACPO lead on media issues chief constable Andy Trotter revealed in Press Gazette this week that his association favours a presumption of anonymity for all those who are arrested until they are charged.

A Comres poll carried for The Independent today reported that 76 per cent agree with the statement: "people accused of a sexual assault should be given anonymity until they are proven guilty". The poll found 18 per cent disagreed and 6 per cent did not know.

One of the women who Hall admitted assaulting today spoke to ITV News UK editor Lucy Manning. She was 17 at the time of the attack, which happened in the 1970s.

She said that publicity around Hall’s arrest prompted her to come forward to the police.

She said: “Obviously with the Jimmy Savile case I had a gut feeling that eventually Stuart Hall would be next. I said to people in my family ‘you wait, it’ll be Stuart Hall next’. And within three weeks it happened.

“After the Jimmy Savile case was coming out I said to family that I wouldn’t be at all surprised that Stuart Hall would be next and within three weeks it was coming out, all the different cases. I’m hearing it on the radio. I said to my husband ‘what should I do? What do you think is best? Because my husband has known for 36 years of the past what happened. When I heard it on the radio, I then got in touch with the local police and they put me in touch with Preston Police.”

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