Labour MP Caroline Flint has welcomed confirmation that the Government has been forced to abandon its plans to introduce legislation to grant anonymity to rape suspects.
In answer to a question tabled by Ms Flint, the Justice Minister Crispin Blunt today (27 July 2010) confirmed that: “The Government is only considering non-legislative options on this matter.”
Speaking after the announcement, Caroline Flint MP said: “This is the first policy from the coalition agreement that has been abandoned. It happened because Labour took up the issue, built a coalition of its own, and forced the Government to back down.
“The Government has finally seen sense and decided to drop these dangerous plans once and for all. There was never any reason to single out rape suspects for special treatment. It sent a clear message that victims of rape were not be believed. The Government should apologise for the distress this policy has caused.
“They tried to hide the fact they were dropping this policy, but they got this one badly wrong. They can’t disguise the fact that this is their first u-turn.”
THE QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL THE GOVERNMENT CLIMBDOWN
269 Caroline Flint (Don Valley): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Oral Answer of 20 July 2010, Official Report, column 161, on defendant anonymity (rape cases), on what non-statutory basis he proposes that anonymity for defendants in rape cases could be provided. 11557
270 Caroline Flint (Don Valley): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Oral Answer of 20 July 2010, Official Report, column 161, on defendant anonymity (rape cases), whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases. 11558
Crispin Blunt: As I made clear at the all day debate on this subject on 8 July (Official Report: columns 533-602), the Government will consider over the summer recess how best to go about strengthening anonymity up to the point of charge and will bring proposals to Parliament in the autumn. The Government is only considering non-legislative options on this matter and, as I said in the House on 20 July (Official Report, Cols. 160 & 161), we are trying to find the best non-statutory solution.
The Government has also decided to postpone publication of an assessment of the existing research and statistics until September. This will allow us to give as full a consideration as possible to the relevant evidence and to address the many questions that have been raised, in particular those raised in the debate on 8 July. The revised timescale also allows appropriate quality checks to be undertaken.