When the Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell was cleared in court yesterday of a number of sexual offences against a child (page 5), he spoke of his “delight” at the verdict. He was charged in February this year, but his name was first mentioned when he was accused two years ago.
His acquittal will raise the issue of anonymity once more for those accused of sex offences. Quite rightly, the identity of his accuser has been protected, and some of those who have published her name on social media have been arrested.
Mr Le Vell, on the other hand, has had his name broadcast throughout the country. During the trial he made a series of embarrassing admissions, including that he was an alcoholic who had a series of one-night stands throughout his 25-year marriage. Whenever he appears on screen, his face will be synonymous with these legal, but morally wrong, inadequacies, not to mention the allegations of which he has now been cleared.
But should we have been made aware of his identity in the first place? His story certainly fills column inches in newspapers – especially the red-tops, who have put him on the front page a number of times. But what happened to the old mantra of “innocent until proven guilty”? I’m sure most people have dark secrets they would rather not have spread throughout the media.
But where would anonymity stop? Should all those accused of any crimes – murder, theft, speeding, etc – remain anonymous unless they choose to waive that right or are found guilty? I’ll throw those questions out for you to answer – you’re the ones whose opinions really count.