Climbdown on plan to grant anonymity to rape accused

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The Independent Online

Plans to grant anonymity to men charged with rape in England and Wales have been abandoned by the Government.

The anonymity proposal was included in the Government's coalition agreement. But it faced immediate and harsh criticism from women's groups who warned that it would prevent other victims of rape from coming forward. They said it would have protected the "black cab rapist", John Worboys, whose crimes against many women were only discovered when he was pictured and named.

Yesterday the Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt, announced the climbdown, saying that there was insufficient evidence to justify the move. "The coalition Government made it clear from the outset that it would proceed with defendant anonymity in rape cases only if the evidence justifying it was clear and sound," he said. "In the absence of any such finding it has reached the conclusion that the proposal does not stand on its merits. It will not, therefore, be proceeded with further."

The move to extend anonymity went against recommendations by Lady Stern, who said independent research should first be done into the scale and nature of false rape allegations.

Proposals to protect teachers accused of an offence by their pupils are not affected. They will be decided separately by the Education Department.