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Open justice row as Home Secretary probes giving anonymity to suspected criminals

Suella Braverman said she believed naming suspects after they were arrested could lead to a

Open the justice line as Home Secretary investigates anonymity of suspected criminals despite fears plans could prevent more victims from coming forward to police

  • Suella Braverman said she fears a ‘media circus’ that could jeopardize a fair trial
  • According to the proposals, high-level offenders like Rolf Harris could not be identified
  • Not revealing their names would prevent more victims from coming forward to police

The Home Secretary has sparked an open justice row by revealing she backs controversial moves to grant anonymity to criminal suspects until they are charged by police.

Suella Braverman said she believes naming suspects after they have been arrested could lead to a “media circus” and potentially jeopardize a fair trial.

But under the proposals, high-profile figures like Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall would have been shielded from identification, preventing more of their victims from coming forward to police.

Ms Braverman was asked about the case of former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who was falsely accused of child abuse and campaigned for suspects to be granted anonymity until charged.

Suella Braverman said she believed naming suspects after they were arrested could lead to a

Suella Braverman said she believes naming suspects after they have been arrested could lead to a “media circus” and potentially jeopardize a fair trial.

The Home Secretary said: “We have had high profile cases where the media circus around suspects has been devastating.”

“I think covering people up before charge can be very damaging, especially if the charges are dropped. We need to consider this question.

“The police must be able to carry out their investigation and the public prosecutor must be able to make their decisions without pressure from the media.

“Individuals and suspects have a right to a fair trial and a trial by the media will only undermine our justice system.”

Shadow Home Secretary Jess Phillips said last night: ‘There are already measures in place to prevent irresponsible reporting.

“Victims” charities are strongly opposed to blanket restrictions as it can make it harder to get other victims to come forward in cases where there are serial offenders and harder to get justice Consequently.

Media groups have consistently opposed the general anonymity of suspects on the grounds that it violates vital principles of open justice.

Importantly, naming a suspect may result in other victims or witnesses contacting the police – correctly reflecting the scale of a person’s alleged crimes.

This then allows police and prosecutors to build a stronger case against the alleged abuser, especially in the case of sexual offences.

Rolf Harris

Stuart Room

But under the proposals, figures like Rolf Harris (left) and Stuart Hall (right) would have been shielded from identification, preventing more of their victims from coming forward to police.

Harris, 92, was jailed for five years and nine months in 2014 after being convicted of 12 indecent assaults involving four victims.

Hall, also 92, was jailed for 15 months in 2013 for indecently assaulting 13 girls. This sentence was later doubled.

Sir Cliff Richard, 81, and DJ Paul Gambaccini, 73, who were both falsely accused of historic sex offenses but never charged, have campaigned for the protection of individuals until they are formally charged by the police.

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