The chairwoman of the Bar Council of England and Wales has called for those accused of rape to be granted anonymity until proven guilty, due to the stigma attaching to those who are victims of false accusations.
In England, those accused were entitled to anonymity until 1998. The Con/Lib government planned to reintroduce the protection, but have backed down in the face of campaigning from anti-rape campaigners and feminists.
Maura McGowan, Chair of Bar Council
It does seem unfair to me that the alleged victim is granted anonymity whereas the accused is not. The criminal justice system is meant to work on the basis of innocent until proven guilty, but increasingly it seems that some feminists believe that in sex cases, uniquely, the accused should be treated as guilty until proven otherwise. We have had cases in this jurisdiction of people being falsely accused of sex crimes, and it is surely unfair that they should have to live with the stigma of "no smoke without fire" for the rest of their lives."Not all of these [rape] accusations are true and the damage that can be done to somebody's life, a teacher, doctor or priest, can be overwhelming if it turns out at the end of the case that the allegation isn't true," she said. "These cases are peculiar unto themselves because the stigma quite often can do so much damage.
"A victim or a witness in an assault or a robbery will not be given anonymity no matter how horrible the case is, but in a sexual allegation they will. We have made special rules in these cases."
Rape suspects 'should not be named' | Society | The Guardian