Shame on you female MPs who express no feeling, no concern, no humanity for the terrible damage done to the falesly accused! Shame on you!
Rape defendants to be granted anonymity despite outrage
The Government is to push ahead with plans to grant anonymity to men accused of rape despite anger from women MPs and campaigners, it has been announced
Female Conservative backbenchers threatened to vote against the move, which would mean that men falsely accused of rape could not be named unless they went on to be charged.
In a rare case of the House of Commons dividing on gender lines, male MPs of all parties spoke in support of the move, while their female counterparts joined forces to condemn the Government’s decision as “deeply disturbing”.
The debate followed the announcement by Crispin Blunt, the Justice Minister, that the Government was keen to bring forward legislation as soon as possible, and would not be launching a formal consultation, as had been expected.
Instead, informal talks will be held with the police, children’s organisations, rape crisis charities and the media before a further announcement is made in September.
Campaigners claim that granting anonymity to defendants could put rape victims off from going to the police.
The Government had promised MPs a free vote on the controversial move.
But Mr Blunt told MPs: "The Government is minded to strengthen anonymity up to the point of charge.
“It is alleged that anonymity for defendants would deter victims in general from coming forward.
“One can easily understand the argument that depriving complainants of anonymity would indeed have that effect.
“But it is difficult to understand how the anonymity of a defendant could possibly have any such effect.
“There is an argument that reducing publicity around rape investigations and trial should make it easier for complainants.”
Louise Bagshawe, Conservative MP for Corby, said that by: "singling out rape in this way ministers are sending a negative signal about women and those who accuse men of rape".
Anna Soubry, a Tory MP and former criminal barrister, said she had defended many men accused of rape, and that it was “without a doubt” the case that when an accused’s name was made public other victims often came forward.
She warned that the Government’s plans could leave the Conservative Party open to the accusation that it did not believe in the "proper prosecution" of people accused of rape.
Also for the Tories, Sarah Wollaston, a former forensic medical examiner for Devon and Cornwall Police, said that the "vast majority" of rape crimes went unreported for fear of reprisal, not being believed, misplaced feelings of guilt, or wanting to forget.
She added that many rapists were serial offenders known to the police and warned ministers against adding a "further barrier" to women coming forward and making allegations.
Female Labour MPs also voiced their opposition to the plans. Maria Eagle, the shadow justice minister, said: "One of the reasons people fear that introducing anonymity for defendants just in rape cases will deter reporting by victims is because one is singling out that particular crime for this treatment.
"If one were to suggest extending anonymity to all defendants it might not have that same impact. But by singling out this one particular offence, you are in danger of sending a clear signal to victims: you will not be believed."
But Rehman Chishti, a Conservative backbencher, said that the publication of false rape allegations could have "long-term and far reaching disastrous and unintended consequences".
And Keith Vaz, Labour chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said "whole lives can be destroyed" by false accusations.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "There are arguments on both sides so the Government thinks it is right to have a reasonable debate on the issue."
But Yvette Cooper, shadow minister for women and equalities, said: "It's deeply disturbing that the Government is pushing ahead with these controversial plans which could prove so damaging for rape convictions without any formal consultation.
"Again the Government's failed to give any reason why rape should be treated differently to any other crime – and chose, instead, to send out the very strong signal that women are not to be believed."