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The coalition should have extended anonymity on rape cases

5 May 2013

11:33 AM

5 May 2013

11:33 AM

No one can ever recover from being wrongly accused of sexual assault, which is why I welcomed the government’s plan to ‘extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants‘. Turns out that Coalition Agreement pledge was a blunder: the Tories thought it was a Liberal Democrat idea and vice versa. When they worked out that neither of them wanted it, the idea was dropped – even though three-quarters of the public back it.

Had this policy been introduced we might not know that Nigel Evans, a Tory MP and deputy speaker, was last night released on bail after being held on suspicion of raping one man and sexually assaulting another. He has not been charged but a man publicly accused of such an offence can expect his life, as he knew it, to end. Whether innocent or guilty, Evans’ political career is effectively over. He will probably have to resign as Deputy Speaker, and perhaps even as an MP, before guilt is proven or disproven.

Is this unfair? Only if he’s innocent – and, like everyone else, I don’t have the faintest idea about his case. But the destructive power of such accusations is such that I think the coalition was right first time around.

UPDATE Evans said in his statement:-

“Yesterday, I was interviewed by the police concerning two complaints, one of which dates back four years, made by two people who are well known to each other and until yesterday, I regarded as friends. The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made. appreciate the way the police have handled this in such a sensitive manner and I would like to thank my colleagues, friends and members of the public who have expressed their support and, like me, a sense of incredulity at these events.”

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