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Defendant anonymity means more rapes’

PUBLISHED: 11:59 15 July 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 25 August 2010

The chair of a women s charity has said government plans to give rape defendants anonymity will result in more rapes.

The chair of a women's charity has said government plans to give rape defendants anonymity will result in more rapes.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said there will be a free vote on the plans to guarantee the anonymity of a rape suspect until they are charged, which were part of the coalition agreement pledge.

But this has outraged women's groups and scores of MPs who claim it will deter victims coming from reporting their ordeal to police.

Chair of Women Against Rape Ruth Hall said: "It's a high price to pay.

"There will be lots more rape victims if women are stigmatised and maligned in that way.

"There's a myth that women are prone to make false allegations and women are all ready reluctant to make allegations fearing that they may not be believed."

Only half of cases brought to court lead to conviction and advocates of anonymity say this shows the need for reform to protect those not found guilty.

Junior Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said further consultations will be made before concrete proposals are put forward.

Newly elected MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Teresa Pearce said: "If we're going to have anonymity it should be for all crimes and not just rape.

"Any crime that is committed is tragic for the victim. I don't think you can single out any crime.

"It would put people off reporting they had been attacked.

"My feeling is that anyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"We've seen cases of innocent people being accused of crimes and for the justice system to work properly we need to respect it."

Ms Hall added: "Reporting rape is a public service. Women do it because they are worried men will do it to someone else.

"It singles out rape as a crime and it's often only publicity that makes women come forward."

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said: "We need to encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward to the police.

"Conviction rates have been very low. We need to do more to encourage women to come forward.


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