For reasons know only to himself, Marcel Berlins seems intent, of late, on making a complete arse of himself on every possible opportunity…
The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, confirmed in the Lords last week that the government was “actively considering” removing the right to anonymity from women who falsely accuse men of raping them. He hoped for a decision “soon”. I trust the decision will be a firm rejection of any such reform. It is unnecessary, it is unworkable, and it would inevitably result in even fewer women reporting that they had been raped, and therefore more rapists remaining at large.
There is already a machinery for revealing the identity of a woman who makes a wholly fictitious allegation, possibly for malicious or revenge reasons, claiming a sexual encounter that has not taken place at all. In such blatant cases, she can clearly be prosecuted for perjury, or for wasting police time. Once she is charged, the media are legally entitled to name her. (True, the woman in the case that provoked the attorney general’s inquiry – who had a history of making false accusations – has not been prosecuted, but many similar fantasists have.)
How, other than in obvious cases where the woman is shown to have invented the story entirely, can one be sure she has made a “false” allegation? What will be the criteria?
Marcel, I hate to be one to have to state the obvious, but I would have thought the ‘criteria’ under which the anonimity of women who make false rape allegations would be removed (by a court, naturally) might just be their arrest (and presumably conviction) for an appropriate criminal offence; such as perjury, wasting police time, attempting to pervert the course of justice, etc. Other than that, one might consider just about giving the option of lifting anonymity to the Court of Appeal, to exercised in cases where an appeal is upheld and the Court (three senior judges) is satisfied on the evidence presented that the original allegation was falsely made, and not merely made in error.
Although not a lawyer, myself, the criteria in that latter case would include that of ‘Mens Rea’ – i.e. the Court of Appeal would have to be satisfied that individual who made the false allegation was of ‘guilty mind’, i.e. that they knew the allegation was false at the time it was made.
Methinks you’re reading a little too much into Lord Goldsmith’s remarks on this occasion, Marcel.