August 15, 2007
DEFENDANT ANONYMITY IN RAPE CASES IN ENGLAND AND IRELAND
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked whether the law in England or Ireland protects the identity of defendants in rape cases by granting them anonymity.
England does not currently protect the identity of a defendant in a rape case unless the person is under age 18 and in the Youth Courts. A law passed in 1976 banned the press from identifying both complainants and defendants in rape cases. The provision on anonymity of defendants was repealed in 1988. The issue is still debated and the government recently responded to a petition seeking anonymity for defendants. A copy of the response is attached.
It appears that the law in Ireland does protect the identity of defendants in rape cases, although there appears to be a difference between incest and other rape cases. According to the Agenda for Justice from Rape Crisis Network Ireland in November 2005, the “Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 (as amended) and the Incest Proceedings Act 1995 leads to the 'protection' of the identity of the perpetrator. Under the provisions of the Incest Proceedings Act 1995 the anonymity of both the complainant and the accused is protected and guaranteed even following conviction of the accused. Under the 1981 Act the anonymity of the accused is removed on conviction of a rape offense.” We did not find any legislation changing these provisions.