Speaking with a Young Conservatives audience at the party conference in Birmingham, Home Secretary Suella Braverman considered granting anonymity to suspects before they are charged. This was a response to concerns about high-profile individuals facing allegations of sexual offences, which may turn out to be unfounded.
Braverman criticised the ‘media circus’ surrounding these allegations, commenting that ‘trial by media will only undermine our justice system.’
This issue echoes the high-profile case of singer Cliff Richard who was investigated decades later for allegedly assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1985. He was not charged and settled the matter against South Yorkshire police for £400,000 in a civil suit. It further mirrors the claims against former conservative MP Harvey Proctor concerning an alleged paedophile ring in Westminster, which was shown to be non-existent. This scandal culminated in the inquiry into Operation Midland, the original investigation into the alleged ring involving politicians and military officers. The inquiry concluded that the allegations, made by Carl Beech, were false.
Speaking at a FACT (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers) conference in Birmingham last spring, Proctor reflected on his deeply traumatizing experience with the media as a result of the publicised allegations. He also lost his job and his home as a result.
When explicitly asked about the two cases, Braverman commented that the ‘coverage of people prior to charge can be very, very damaging.’
‘We have had some high-profile instances where the media circus around a suspect who has not been charges has been devastating’, Braverman added.
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