The recent conviction of Carl Beech has reignited the debate over whether those accused of sexual offences should be named before they are charged.
The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland QC last week added to the debate by suggesting that the anonymity of suspected sex offenders should be respected until they are charged – where the individual has a reputation to protect. He also suggested that this principle be extended to all serious crimes.
The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is an important tenet of any civilised society. So much so, that this essential right is enshrined in a number of countries’ codes and constitutions.
Under English and Welsh common law, it is for the prosecution to prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The United Kingdom is also, of course, a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights which deals with similar such rights at Article 6, further encapsulated in domestic legislation in the form of the Human Rights Act 1998.
What then, of those who feel that their rights in this respect have been undermined?
Radio presenter Paul Gambaccini has recently spoken out about those falsely accused of sexual offences, having been accused of sexual offences himself that he says he did not commit. He was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of historic, or non-recent, sexual offences and was never charged; he has always denied the allegations.