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Open justice queue as Interior Minister investigates anonymity of suspected criminals

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Justice open as Home Secretary investigates anonymity of suspected criminals, despite fears plans could prevent more alleged victims from going to police

  • Suella Braverman said she fears ‘media circus’ that could jeopardize due process
  • High-profile offenders like Rolf Harris could not be identified, according to proposals
  • Critics say not revealing names would prevent more victims from coming forward

The Home Secretary has sparked an open row by revealing that she supports controversial moves to formally keep criminal suspects anonymous until charged by police.

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

But under the proposals, high-profile individuals such as Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall would be protected from identification, preventing more of their victims from going to the police.

Meanwhile, in the case of black cab rapist John Worboys, a large number of women come forward to make accusations against him after news of his arrest comes out. He was eventually convicted in 2009 of assaulting 12 women

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

Ms Braverman was asked about the case of former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, who has been falsely accused of child abuse and has campaigned to anonymize suspects until they are charged.

The Home Secretary said: “We’ve had some high-profile cases in which the media frenzy surrounding the suspects has been devastating.

“I think covering people up prior to indictment can be very damaging, especially if the charges are dropped. We need to look at this problem.

“The police must be able to conduct their investigations and the Public Prosecution Service must be able to make their decisions without pressure from the media.

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

Proctor gave a press conference to personally reveal that he had been accused of sexual abuse.

Shadow Home Secretary Jess Phillips said last night: “Steps have already been put in place to prevent irresponsible reporting.

“Victim’s charities are strongly against general restrictions because it can make it harder to bring other victims to the fore in cases involving serial offenders and therefore harder to get justice.”

Media groups have consistently opposed general anonymity for suspects because it violates the vital principles of open justice.

Critics say it is crucial that naming a suspect can lead to other victims or witnesses contacting the police.

This allows police and prosecutors to build a stronger case against the alleged perpetrator, especially in sex crimes.

Rolf Harris

Stuart Hall

But under the proposals, high-profile individuals such as Rolf Harris (left) and Stuart Hall (right) would be protected from identification, preventing more of their victims from going to the police.

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

Hall, also 92, was sentenced to 15 months in prison 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, campaigned for the protection of individuals until they were formally charged by police.

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