The Lib-Con coalition Government has promised to extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants.
Anyone who makes a complaint of a rape or sexual assault already has lifetime anonymity from the moment the complaint has been made under existing reporting restrictions. These place curbs on journalists reporting crime and the courts and mean they themselves are committing contempt of court if they publish any information which could lead to an alleged victim’s identification.
Now the new Government has pledged to extend these rules to cover the accused in rape cases. Such a change will have a sweeping effect on the way journalists report on such cases, rendering them difficult to cover until an alleged rapist has been convicted.
In recent years many high-profile figures have suffered months of headlines after being accused of rape only to be acquitted at trial, most recently former husband of reality TV Jade Goody – Jack Tweed.
Other high profile cases of recent years include those of snooker star Quinten Hann, cleared of rape in 2002, and actor Craig Charles, who was accused and then cleared of rape in 1994. Under the new rules, these allegations would never have come to light.