Friday 4 February 2011

Anonymity Bill fails to win Government support

An anonymity bill that planned to stop the media from identifying crime suspects before they are charged has been withdrawn after it failed to receive Government support.

The Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Bill, which was tabled by Anna Soubry MP, proposed that no newspaper or broadcaster could name someone arrested or questioned by the police until after a decision had been made to charge the person with a crime.

During the reading justice minister Crispin Blunt said that the Government would instead look at contempt laws and consult the Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

If the measure was in place the identity of the retired Bristol schoolmaster Chris Jefferies, who was the subject of much media speculation while being questioned over the murder of Joanna Yeates, could not have been reported.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, told the Sunday Times last week: “It sounds like a simple and easy measure but it’s a complex issue. The public are entitled to know when someone is arrested and not naming people who are arrested only leads to speculation and rumour in place of absolute fact."

Source: Society of Editors

1 comment:

Steve Dyson said...

Good that the Government listened to some sense. But crucial now for Contempt laws to be strengthened and, more importantly, used if the industry wants to prevent such legislation coming up again. I would suggest an SoE-backed working party to proactively push for this.