Cambridge Crown Court rapist anonymity order overturned

The Court of Appeal has overturned an order made by a Cambridge judge who said a convicted rapist could not be identified by the media.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth QC banned the press from naming a rapist he sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court over fears the victim would also be identified.

The Press Association news agency fought the order.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge upheld the appeal, saying power could not be given under the Sexual Offences Act.

Victims of rape and other sexual offences are all given lifelong anonymity under section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.

The Cambridge judge's order was made after he jailed the man earlier this year, following concerns raised by the prosecution that reporting the name of the defendant could identify the victim.

Wider issue

The Press Association lodged an appeal, arguing the responsibility for ensuring the lifelong anonymity of victims of certain offences under section 1 of the 1992 Act rested with the editors, and those reporting any trial, not with the court.

Its legal editor Mike Dodd told the court PA's interest was not in the particular trial itself but in the wider issue of reporting restrictions, which he said was of major importance to the media. He expressed concern at the apparent willingness of some courts to make orders which were unnecessary or beyond their powers.

Lord Judge, sitting with Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Mitting at the Court of Appeal in London, allowed the appeal against the order, stating: "In our view, broadcasting authorities and newspaper editors should be trusted to fulfil their responsibilities accurately to inform the public of court proceedings, and to exercise sensible judgment about the publication of comment which may interfere with the administration of justice.

"They have access to the best legal advice; they have their own personal judgments to make."

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