Anonymity for defendants? Pam Ayres weighs in (with predictable results)

Anonymity for defendants? Pam Ayres weighs in (with predictable results)

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Photo from Random House

Introduction

The question of whether those accused of sexual offences should have anonymity until convicted is a vexed one (see a piece by Mark George QC for the blog here and something by me here), with many good arguments on both sides.

On 9th September 2014 this issue was addressed by, slightly surprisingly, Pam Ayres in the following tweet :

The reaction to this was entirely predictable, and she was eviscerated on twitter by a multitude of people (although she did have some support to be fair) who made all the points that could be made, good and bad, against her argument.

 

What’s the background?

The backdrop to this is the case of Archie Reed. Mr Reed was accused of rape and subsequently acquitted (we think on 5th September). The Judge did not mince his words – he “criticised the CPS for its shambolic evidence during the trial“, amongst other things. .

It is clear that there were multiple failings in the way that the case was investigated (although that may well be a dog bites man story nowadays), although it should be noted that the case did go past half time (on one of the charges at least) and it was the jury who acquitted Mr Reed.

 

Conclusion

There isn’t one. And there probably won’t every be – this is a difficult issue, and I imagine it will rumble on. It may be that Ms Ayres will think twice before commenting on legal matters in future, (although she has as much as a right as anyone, even if she could have chosen her words slightly more carefully), but she seems to have continued with the debate in fairness to her.

 

From the Telegraph
From the Telegraph
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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

12 COMMENTS

        • Either *both* parties are named, or *both* parties are anonymous. We are a nation that believes in gender equality, are we not? Or do we believe in equality only when it is advantageous to the female?

          Or, perhaps we should consider whether we would prefer to be raped or falsely accused and convicted of rape.

          If the answer is not immediately obvious, then the principle of gender equality dictates that both complainant and accused be treated equally ie both named or both unnamed.

          It seems obvious to me anyway.

          The practice of giving the complainant anonymity is just a remnant of our former patriarchy when it was being chivalrous to women.

  1. We live in an age where it has become almost second nature to accuse another often without any evidence the crime took place, the words of the accuser are taken as fact and a biased investigation is undertaken by our incompetent police forces.

    Add this to the defendants name being released prior to conviction and here we have what i believe to be a modern day witch hunt, persecuting the accused, where innocent until proven guilty is long forgotten in cases that include sexual offences.

    Once the defendants name is released in the press his or her reputation is tarnished for life regardless of the outcome at trial. The no smoke without fire bridgade will always insinuate ‘he got away with it’ if indeed a not guilty verdict is obtained. I speak from experience believe me …..

    In my son’s case he was named in the local press upon charge, he was just 18 years old.
    The case was eventually proven to have been false whereby the false accused had been shown to have made repeated false allegations against others and was indeed a fantasis. The outcome of the trial has never been reported, so in all sense and purposes the public have not been told that my son proved his innocence or that the allegations have indeed been proved to be false. The false accuser however is hidden behind a lifetime anonymity order preventing her name from ever being published leaving her free to accuse somebody else in the futre, and she will give her time.

    My personal view is until you can prove the guilt of the accused the allegations and name should never be released to the press. If the accused is proven to be innocent and there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the allegation is false at this point the accusers name should be released in the hope it would deter her from making any futher allegations in the future.

    Also, if the person is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt i agree the defendants name should be released as i believe at this point it is in the public interest.

    Until we see these types of cases correctly recorded, being investigated unbiasedly and those who lie in order to destroy an innocent persons life are named and shamed there will always be casualties of lives destroyed forever.

    • Feminists are never prepared to give up their redundant privileges, are they? Not even in the name of gender equality. Everything that suits them they will keep, while demanding ever more privileges at the expense of men. Now, these feminised effeminate men no longer dare speak up for themselves for fear of being accused of sexism and misogyny. Now, these gutless emasculated men rely on women to speak up for men as if they were little boys hiding under their mother’s skirts.

  2. As we operate on an innocent until proven guilty policy then I don’t think it’s right the defendant should be named. Simples!!!

  3. If a rapist is innocent (as all rapists are) “I’m Red, only guilty man in Shawshank Prison” then why does he need anonymity. No other defendant is granted anonymity (except for legal reasons). If the witness aka the rape victim is also on trial then lets see her, because women are overwhelmingly the victims of rape, have her own defence team. Let that innocent rapist go through the cross examination that the rape victim is put through and I bet we’ll see the conviction rate start to climb, soar and eventually sky rocket.

    If what Pam Ayres was trying to say was: if you invite a man into your bed then he is entitled to have sex with you, that’s rape. If she’s saying well “what did you expect you invited him into bed” that is to say that all men expect sex with women as a right, consent not needed, that too is rape and she is also saying that men cannot control themselves and therefore women have to do the controlling for them. That still says to me that men are a lesser species feral in nature with zero self control and therefore any woman in her right mind would do well to avoid them or risk rape. Furthermore, what the hell is wrong with getting explict uncoerced consent to sex. The only reason one would not do so is if one feared the response would be a NO.

    And, as usual, there cannot be a conversation about rape and or anonymity for rapists without someone pointing the finger at feminists. Except it’s not feminists doing the rapeing. If you have a problem with this take it up with the ones doing rape – that’s men and tell them to stop. If men didn’t’t rape all of this is over. Yours in Sisterhood

    • Your argument would carry more weight, apart from the obvious point that in most other cases accusers/victims are not granted anonymity. It it the anonymity granted to the accuser/victim that demands the defendant be afforded the same privilege. Either both or neither get that benefit. I would argue for both, and across a wider spectrum of crimes.

      Innocent until proven guilty is one of the great lies of our society, and we should be more active in its promotion.

      • Perhaps if rape victims were allowed their own defence team, rather than thrown to the lions, when they are effectively put on trial, in everything but name, your argument would have more weight. Rape is not an even stevens situation much as the he’s been acquitted therefore she must have lied and anyway she was wearing a short skirt, had a pulse and a vagina brigade (and the pulse part is optional because being paralytic to the point of comatose counts as consent in the land of the rapist) would have you believe, possibly then I’d get behind some of this stuff however
        at the moment it seems geered towards getting rapists off and that is wrong. Innocent until proven guilty might be the legal test but it doesn’t not mean he didn’t do it.

  4. ” No other defendant is granted anonymity (except for legal reasons).”

    Agreed. There is nothing special about defendants in rape cases.

    Which is why I think all defendants should have anonymity unless and until convicted. It works in France where they are Monsieur X or Madame Y or Mlle Z (yes, I know which is most common) and readers and viewers don’t expect names. I believe the court can lift it in the interests of justice but rarely does.

    Ironically the French media go into a frenzy with juicy cases from outside France. I was there during the run-up to the Huntley-Carr trial and a magazine called Marianne (leftish Establishment-knocking) told me enough about the case against that unfortunate woman (the editor – a woman – did not seem much interested in Huntley) to get an editor on this side of the Channel banged up for contempt of court.

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