Government considering giving defendants other than rape suspects anonymity
For those not sad enough to be watching a House of Commons debate at 11pm last night, you missed a fiery debate about the Government’s plan to give anonymity to rape suspects. Caroline Flint, who wrote this piece in the Independent opposing the move, had been granted a debate on the topic.
A few interesting things became apparent. The lack of preparation that had been done in including the measure in the coalition document was one of them. The pledge had not appeared in the manifesto of either the Lib Dems or the Tories. Crispin Blunt, the junior justice minister responding to Flint, admitted that the evidence simply was not yet in place to make an informed decision on it.
But more importantly, there was a lot of wiggling on policy – on the one hand, Blunt seemed to echo David Cameron in preparing the way for anonymity to be watered down (it had previously been assumed defendants would be granted anonymity until conviction). Here’s what he said:
“There are a number of possible options on the timing and scope of anonymity. On timing, it could extend from the point of the accusation until the time the defendant is charged; or to the beginning of the trial; or to the point of conviction.”
But, perhaps more importantly and surprisingly, he said the extension of anonymity may go beyond rape suspects:
“Further options relate to the scope of the anonymity in so far as the offences are concerned. It could cover anonymity in rape cases, but it could go wider. There are reasons why it might also be applied to other offences.”
More fiddling with the courts already? Surely not…
Here is, I think, an independent first – listen to the audio of Crispin Blunt’s suggestion that anonymity could be widened here:
(Picture: Getty images)Tagged in: caroline flint, coalition, rape anonymity
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