Wednesday, 2 June 2010

‘Rape case anonymity for defendants would be insult to victims,’ says Yvonne Fovargue MP

Plans to ban identification of defendants accused of rape suggests victims of sexual violence do not matter.

People accused of rape in England and Wales are to be granted anonymity under proposals announced by the coalition government.

The proposal was not in the Liberal Democrat or Conservative manifesto but the plan angered anti-rape campaigners who said it would do nothing to improve the conviction rate.

At present, there are no restrictions on naming defendants who are over 18 years old. The government's proposal for anonymity would only affect England and Wales.

Yvonne Fovargue has signed a parliamentary motion (EDM 105) calling on the Government to withdraw its proposal. She said the changes would "send a damaging message" and may discourage victims from coming forward.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said, “People accused of breaking the law would rather remain anonymous, but that is not how justice in this country works."

“Rape victims need encouragement to report the crimes, and a system which assumes the victim is lying is not the way to achieve that. Of course it is atrocious that anyone could be accused of a crime they didn’t commit, but the law already allows people to be prosecuted for a false accusation.”

Campaigners assert that false allegations of rape are extremely rare but receive disproportionate media coverage. Rape law campaigner Jill Saward said she is "horrified" by the news and accused politicians of turning their backs on victims of sexual violence.

Ms Saward, who has spoken out on tackling rape since being attacked at her Ealing vicarage home in 1986, said she completely opposes anonymity for defendants. She said the changes may discourage genuine victims from coming forward.

The full text of the Early Day Motion follows:


'That this House believes that the Government's proposal to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases sends a message to juries and rape victims that the victim is not to be believed; fears that this could inhibit the effective prosecution of serial rapists; is further concerned that this will reverse the progress made on the prosecution of rape cases noted in the independent Stern Review; is further concerned that the Government has put forward the proposal without any research, evidence or examination of these issues; and calls on the Government to withdraw its proposal.'