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UK Politics

Anger over rape accused anonymity plans

The Government sparked cross-party anger today by announcing it plans to press ahead with giving rape defendants pre-charge anonymity.

Junior justice minister Crispin Blunt told MPs: "The Government is minded to strengthen anonymity up to the point of charge."

But shadow minister Maria Eagle warned that by singling out one offence for anonymity, ministers are in "danger of sending a clear signal to victims: you will not be believed".

Tory Louise Bagshaw (Corby) said there are concerns on all sides of the Commons that by "singling out rape in this way ministers are sending a negative signal about women and those who accuse men of rape".

Mr Blunt said the Government believes the move strikes the "right balance" but promised further consultations before coming forward with concrete proposals.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has already promised MPs a free vote on the controversial issue, which featured as a coalition agreement pledge.

Critics claim it will deter rape victims from coming forward with complaints to the police.