Government to ‘persuade’ PCC on rape anonymity

The government has abandoned plans to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases, reports MediaGuardian.

In what amounts to passing the buck of responsibility to the press, ministers propose negotiating with the Press Complaints Commission to persuade newspapers and websites to allow suspects to remain unnamed.

The PCC itself cannot invoke a change in the code, which is a matter for the editors’ code committee, so it is unlikely to alter press attitudes to reporting rape anytime soon.

The government denied that the announcement broke its manifesto, which said: “We will extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants.”

But it was criticised by all sides in the Commons.

Shadow minister Maria Eagle warned that singling out one offence for anonymity would mean the “danger of sending a clear signal to victims: you will not be believed”.

Roy Greenslade, writing on his MediaGuardian blog, had stern words for the government: “If parliament wishes to grant anonymity through, say, a further amendment to the 1976 Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, then it should have the guts to do so.

“It’s not for the PCC or editors to get the government off the hook.”

(Source: MediaGuardian)

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