First, an apology to readers; I will not be posting a link to the story that I’m writing about. This is for legal reasons.
I’ll explain. The article contains images and information relating to the police witness known as ‘Nick’ which is likely, in my opinion, to lead others to identify him. If this is so, then I could possibly be breaking the law if I were to knowingly direct others to that information.
The CPS states;
The victim in a case of rape or one of the sexual offences listed in the 1992 Act is entitled to ‘anonymity’ in the press. Once an allegation of one of the relevant offences has been made, nothing can be published which is likely to lead members of the public to identify the victim.
The IPSO guidelines are;
Clause 11 Victims of sexual assault
The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.
So you see, I can’t very well link to the article. From the moment that Nick walked into a police station and made a complaint of sexual assault or rape, he was entitled to legal anonymity. It makes absolutely no difference if the allegations are proven or not, that is his right as a complainant. This does not just cover the outright naming of an alleged victim, it also covers ‘jigsaw’ identification. In other words supplying pieces of information which when joined can lead to the alleged victims identification.
I personally believe that this is an important legal principle but there might be some, perhaps even some working for the Daily Mail, who disagree with me and think that this isn’t a fair law. They are certainly entitled to think that but nevertheless that is the law of the land and we can’t choose to obey the laws we like and disobey those we don’t like.
There are legitimate questions that need to be asked with regard to Nick’s allegations including Exaro’s relationship with Nick . I’ve made my own view crystal clear in previous posts that I do not believe that Nick’s allegations are correct but what is called for at this time is balanced, objective, and forensic journalism and I’m afraid that this latest story in The Mail was none of those things.
It read, on the whole, like a malicious rant, part of someone’s personal hate campaign and indeed there are some indications that behind the two journalists named on the byline, are a couple of people with axes to grind. If it were possible the article could be undermined even further, then including an unwarranted and thinly veiled political attack on Tom Watson MP, who was recently elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, certainly went a fair way to achieving that end.
This story will set things back, not move them forward.