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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Should sex case suspects be anonymous?
TV presenter John Leslie has had all charges of sexual assault against him dropped, but his lawyers say he should never have been named.

Jason McCue, a member of his legal team, said "It is outrageous that he has had to live through this nightmare... whilst the victim of the crime had anonymity and justly so."

The most senior judge in England and Wales, Lord Woolf, has called for Parliament to examine the issue, saying it is wrong to have trial by media.

Should suspects like John Leslie be given anonymity?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Jason Waldron, Manchester, UK
Is it now time for people who are accused of serious crimes to remain anonymous until they are convicted?

Anonymity for both parties until a verdict is declared should be the case for all trials. The law governing what can be written or reported while a case is under way should be tightened up. We all too often have trials by media and it isn't always sex offence cases.
David, UK

I think that in the interests of fairness that anyone accused of any crime relating to child/sexual abuse should remain anonymous until they are found guilty. With these types of crimes there is an assumption that there is no smoke without fire. It cannot be fair that someone who has done nothing wrong should suffer.
James Sheppard, Scotland

I fail to see any benefit in naming the defendant before any verdict has been passed. The only winners from resulting tabloid frenzy are the papers themselves. I believe the case should be conducted within the court room to allow British justice the best chance. After all how many high profile cases have recently collapsed due to media interference?
Richard I E White, Isle Of Man

Of course they should remain anonymous until a verdict is reached of either guilty or not-guilty. Unfortunately, mud sticks even if you are proved innocent!
Debbie, England

I think that it is wrong to name any suspect until proven guilty no matter what the crime is
Miss L. Murphy, England
I always thought that the British citizen was innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, I think that it is wrong to name any suspect until proven guilty no matter what the crime is. They will always be tarnished no matter if justice prevails and they are innocent.
Miss L. Murphy, England

Just because the case collapses it doesn't mean there isn't a case. A person can rape somebody and then admit to indecent assault and walk away with a slap on the wrist, just because the victim is too traumatised to go to court and prove there was in fact a rape. I know, I am the father of a 14 year old victim who is still trying to pick up the pieces of her life.
Mick, UK

It should go both ways, either both parties are named, or both kept anonymous. This may prevent some individuals from vindictive actions. In cases such as this people will always remember John Leslie as having been accused of sexual assault. He suffered and will always suffer by this. The other party continues to live in the knowledge that he/she has the law on his/her side. This is morally wrong.
Julia Zak, Saudi Arabia

Those who think people who are tenuously suggested to be involved in sex cases aren't going to be attacked without reason need to read the article [link at the right of this webpage] on a woman targeted by vigilantes in Wales because they didn't know the difference between a paediatrician and a paedophile. Why does the public have a right to be given names to randomly attack again?
Michael, UK

The courage it takes for women to come forward and pursue such a course of action has been overlooked
Nigel, UK
In reality 12% of rape cases are dropped before trial and many instances go unreported due to the stigma and shame for the VICTIM. The courage it takes for women to come forward and pursue such a course of action has been overlooked by a public and media that has first condemned John Leslie without a trial and now exonerated him without understanding the facts. There is psychiatric evidence to prove that most rapists believe they have done absolutely nothing wrong and it was the victim's fault.
Nigel, UK

We should clarify the meaning of "anonymity". In cases involving children, the media are always forbidden from naming the child, but the information exists within the court system, open to any who have a role in proceedings. Similarly, the name of the accused could be out of bounds from the press, but be nonetheless in the public domain through the court system. This is a simple but effective device to prevent the tabloids from presenting rumour and suspicion as fact.
Tanya, UK

This is a tough one. Firstly you have to try someone before you convict them - until that point they are innocent, and the law is supposed to protect the innocent. However there is no doubt that in some cases naming the accused has given other people the courage to come forward and admit they were also victims. Surely it is the press who should be in the dock here, they who trawled through every dustbin looking for the slightest bit of dirt to shout about. Perhaps we should consider allowing the press to name the accused but nothing else. Sadly, people really do believe everything they read in the papers and let's face it, sex sells.
Helen, UK

Pointing an accusing finger can condemn someone in an instant
Stuart, UK
The problem lies with the fact that someone charged with a crime is treated as guilty until proven innocent, despite the fact it should be otherwise. The speculation surrounding cases and the perception of someone's guilt is what must change. Media involvement or speculation in any criminal cases should be restricted until after a verdict is determined. The cases involving sex or abuse ruin peoples lives because of the public outcry and media frenzy that ensues. The John Leslie case hadn't even been opened and his life has been destroyed because of an initial knee-jerk reaction from his bosses to give him the sack, and the perception of guilt that this laid at his door. This was similar to the reaction to the Matthew Kelly incident and it seems that pointing an accusing finger can condemn someone in an instant.
Stuart, UK

Under British law you are innocent until proven guilty, Leslie has not been proven guilty, yet he has lost his job and his good name to this case. If you are going to argue that evidence will not come forward unless an accuser is named, then the accused should also be named so that evidence for the defence can be brought forward under the same principles.
Dave, UK

If you were to ask a man what the greatest horrors were that could befall him in life then being falsely accused of raping a woman would come pretty high on his list. The trauma of being an innocent man investigated for such a thing would be bad enough, having your name in the public domain would just intensify the feelings. Any person accused of a sex crime, including paedophilia, should remain anonymous until the outcome of a trial.
G Tully, UK

Is it any wonder that cases collapse when alleged victims go to a publicist before they'll go to the police?
Caroline, Ireland
It seems that public figures are guilty until proven guilty. Even though John Leslie and Matthew Kelly were both cleared of the charges against him, the mere fact that they were accused at all is enough for some people to have them hanged drawn and quartered. Is it any wonder that cases collapse when alleged victims go to a publicist before they'll go to the police? We all have the right to maintain our innocence until our guilt can be proven... even famous people. We should also have the right as, an innocent person, to remain anonymous until we are judged otherwise in a court and not in a tabloid.
Caroline, Ireland

What I find incredible is the blame given to the "media" here. As the media's customer, the British public are the ones to blame. Either we have the most squeaky clean bunch of contributors here or we have a group of hypocrites that tutted and sighed over their tabloids and now claim it is the fault of the media. Take a good long look at that broken man Britain, it was you that did this to him.
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)

John Leslie has brought much of his own misfortune upon himself. His failure to make a clear statement when requested by his ex-employers led to his dismissal. It is not that John Leslie has been named that is really the problem, it is naive to believe that any individual is really going to be protected from the trauma and the journey to hell and back, just because (in theory) nobody else knows. In John Leslie's case, he would be well advised to rethink his approach from now. While declared innocent because charges were dropped, it does not mean that we have to like him as a person or feel sympathy for him.
Barry b, UK

The victims should always come first
Christine, UK
In cases such as this where there is such a social stigma attached to being investigated for certain crimes I think there needs to be anonymity until the suspect is proven guilty. Despite having been cleared of all charges people are still going to look at John Leslie for a long time and wonder, as the common attitude is that there's no smoke without fire. However, saying that, the victims should always come first so anything that's done to protect the defendants should be done twice to protect the victims.
Christine, UK

To those who are saying that accusers should face the same sentence as the accused should the accused be released - please think about the implications of what you are saying. Just because a case collapses does not mean that the accuser acted maliciously, or that the accused was innocent, merely that the case was not proved. If people thought they faced a heavy sentence if an allegation was not proved to the high standard required by the criminal justice system, hardly anyone would ever come forward to report a crime again. Be sensible.
Katherine, UK

Years ago, a friend of mine was arrested on suspicion of raping a girl in his taxi. After 5 hours of humiliation, the girl admitted she made up the story as a 'cover' to her parents because she was late home. Despite this, the police continued to trail and harass the taxi driver until he quit his job. So why does the law retain the right to anonymity to women guilty of false accusation whilst the man is forever tarnished? Keep the system fair - but keep it equal.
Malkie, England

Anonymity is needed for ALL defendants, not just in relation to sex cases. So far as John Leslie is concerned, I hope he sues and it seems to me that the only way to deal with the loathsome tabloids once and for all is for damages to run into BILLIONS. I myself was twice a victim of A News of the World sting sex scandal, and although no criminal activities were alleged it was a VERY unpleasant experience having my personal life misrepresented & splashed all over the tabloids, then of course, all our local papers.
Colin W, UK

If you grant rapists anonymity where do you stop?
David, UK
This has caused not just damage to Leslie's career, character and health I am sure, but to future rape victims. Anonymity is not the way forward because often the victims are too scared to come forward, if they see that the perpetrator has done the same to others, often that is enough to encourage them to come forward. If you grant rapists anonymity where do you stop - murderers? Then it is possible Harold Shipman would never have been caught. Sometimes you need a ripple to start a tidal wave!!! It is the papers to blame by assuming guilt.
David, UK

Whilst there is much to be said for the pros and cons of granting anonymity to a suspect in any criminal case - I think that the 'shielding' given to accusers acts against the best interests of the law. The released name of both the accused and accuser allows evidence to be brought forward concerning both parties - which surely is fairest to all.
Dave Richmond-Hawk, Scotland

I think sex case suspects should be named. Most sex crimes don't lead to a conviction and therefore only naming convicted sex offenders is not really any warning to other people that they may pray upon. If a suspicion has been raised over an individual the public should be given some warning.
Sarah , UK

Why do so many men on this forum assume the woman in question has cried wolf. She may well be telling the truth but the CPS may have advised her that achieving conviction is highly unlikely due to circumstances around the incident. None of us know the truth but as much as John Leslie should not be tried by the media neither should his accuser.
Anon, UK

If the reports of John Leslie selling his story to the Daily Express are true, then I lose some sympathy for him
Alex, England
I think the poor man's ordeal is far from over - especially given the level of debate going on here and in private/public all over the country, much of it fuelled by the public's desire for gossip and the tabloid press eagerly printing every details of the allegations.

He has every right to rebuild his career, however, if the reports of John Leslie selling his story to the Daily Express are true, then I lose some sympathy for him. The man has borne this burden for the best part of a year in dignified silence, and I would have more respect for him if he'd continued with that silence - rather than feeding the whole debate more fuel.
Alex, England

A few years ago, a friend of mine was accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend. He was charged and sent for trial. The case was covered in the national press and he was named, whilst his accuser remained anonymous. During the trial, his accuser admitted that she had not been raped and that she had fabricated the accusation out of malice. The case collapsed and my friend was completely cleared. This aspect was not widely reported. He was greatly hurt by this - his name had been splashed across the papers as an alleged rapist, he had subsequently been proved innocent, and yet the press were not interested in reporting his innocence as widely as they had reported his alleged guilt.

He had plans to launch a campaign to bring about a change in the law regarding anonymity. Sadly, the depression caused by his experience was so severe that he took his own life. It really is that simple - the accused should be granted the same anonymity as the alleged victim unless they are proven guilty. The consequences of an innocent person having their name thrust into the public domain before the outcome of the trial is established, especially in this tabloid-ruled age, are potentially as tragic as those suffered by my friend.
Rick, UK

People who make these allegations because of a grudge should themselves be prosecuted
Stefan, UK
I was accused of rape and arrested by the police ten years ago now. Although the accusation turned out to be malicious (the CPS found that there was no evidence to support the accusation) and I was never charged, I was still forced to inform my employer and, of course, my family. People who make these allegations either because of a grudge or, in the case of famous people, for financial reward should themselves be prosecuted.
Stefan, UK

This is a very emotive subject, and one that I feel will never be resolved to the complete satisfaction of everyone. However Perhaps an accused could stay anonymous, unless the police could prove that, from their investigations, publicity could indeed help the case once it got to court. In other words don't release names on any accusation but after careful consideration that it is not just a malicious lie. Surely further discrete enquiries could throw more light on it.
Sarah, England

Of course suspects should remain anonymous. There have been far too many public false accusations to make naming of a suspect a responsible act. One reason for not keeping them anonymous is to see if any more complaints come out about the individual, but isn't justice all about convicting for what a person has done, not what they may have done. If someone is found guilty, that's when the names should be released, and that is when others will be encouraged to come forth.
Stephen Foster, Canada

I don't think that anonymity is the issue here (and being famous & trying to be anonymous just don't mix). It's the tabloids and the British lust for prominent figures' blood. They print it and we read it!
Mandy, UK

Naming people is the only way they can be held accountable
Giles Clinker, UK
Surely the amount of cases that fail to go to court due to genuine personal reasons of the victim mean that naming people is the only way they can be held accountable. Should someone remain anonymous because someone they attacked is to too terrified to go into the witness box?
Giles Clinker, UK

I was pleased to hear that charges had been dropped in this case, however I am disturbed that somebody that has had these allegations fuelled by the press is willing to make money by selling an exclusive to a national newspaper within a day of the charges being dropped. John Leslie is a wealthy man, with a supportive family and friends, does he need to stoop to such a level of getting even, or does he now have the right to make millions from this unfortunate affair.
Rolf, UK

John Leslie is just a person whose job happened to be presenting a TV programme. If it was anybody else, with similar accusations made against them we probably wouldn't be questioning whether suspects should remain anonymous.
Jane Martin, UK

There are really two groups of people who need protection in these cases. The innocent victims of sexual offences and those innocent people accused of sexual offences that they did not commit. It is a tragedy that anybody falls into either of these groups. It is, however, only possible to protect both groups by giving the accused anonymity unless and until they are found guilty by a court of law. The fundamental human right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty is too important to be eroded by media attempts to sell newspapers.
Liz, UK

Once somebody's been publicly accused of such a crime, there will be a question mark over the rest of their lives. Celebrities live in the public eye and the media dictates how they come across. As for the point of other 'victims' coming forward, as soon as this story broke in November, you had in the region of 20 women coming forward. Are these people now going to be named and shamed for wasting police time and tarnishing a mans character?
Laura Binks, London, UK

Anonymity clearly is an issue, not only for the celebrities but for ordinary people caught up in the media
Peter Cameron, England
The notion of a fair trial is clearly not available for any individual whose case might have been picked up by an uncaring and unforgiving media driven by its own self-obsession and self-importance. The basic tenet of our legal system is innocent until proved guilty, try telling that to the media. Yes, anonymity clearly is an issue, not only for the celebrities but for ordinary people caught up in the media whirlwind.
Peter Cameron, England

John Leslie is very lucky that he is a prominent figure. That is why as much prominence has been given to his acquittal as to his original charge. Think of all the thousands of ordinary people, including teachers, priests and doctors who have been falsely accused with great publicity, had their lives ruined and whose clearances have gone unpublicised. I personally know several such people.
Peter Ratra, England

If the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty were respected then there would not be an issue with regard to whether the identity of a suspect should be revealed. Because of a lack of respect for this presumption, an innocent person who has been charged but not convicted frequently faces the unnecessary ordeal of being harassed and vilified. This is especially so for people who are already well known. The media, and in particular the tabloid press, are largely responsible for this due to the way that they present such cases.
John Wallace, UK

This is all very worthy and well meant. But come on, we all know that the Leslie case was a great story. We love this stuff. It has sex, violence, greed, fear, tragedy and all in a real life format! Brilliant. What does it matter that a good and decent man is ruined, and that raped women will have even less chance of being believed? That's life, as we collectively choose to live it. I'm looking forward to the film 'loosely based on a true story' version before I decide what really happened.
Duane, London

The general public assume guilt before innocence and mud sticks
Jon Berrick, UK
My father was accused and cleared of rape 3 years ago. Despite being found not guilty his life has been turned upside down. He now lives about 200 miles away from the town he grew up in because of the behaviour of local people towards him. Seeing him involved a 10 hour round trip and he sees my siblings every 4 to 6 months. Let's be realistic- the general public assume guilt before innocence and mud sticks. The only way of changing this is to give people, including the accuser, anonymity.
Jon Berrick, UK

Why do so many of your correspondents assume that the allegations made against John Leslie were malicious and insist that the accusers should be "named and shamed" or punished in some other way. Malicious accusations are a fact of life, as any police officer will tell you, but so are perfectly true accusations that never come to court because the complainant cannot face the ordeal of being questioned by defending council, were psychologically damaged by their ordeal, have been intimidated, cannot bear to face their attacker again, or who cannot provide conclusive evidence because the incident happened between two individuals in private. John Leslie should be assumed innocent until proven guilty; extend the same consideration to the complainants. There may not have been enough evidence to take a prosecution forward but that does not automatically make the complainants liars.
David, UK

The law still stipulate that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Until a person has been sentenced by a court of law then I believe anonymity should be applied. The media, above all the print media, can ruin the life of a (possibly) innocent person by witch hunts.
S Gilmartin, Germany

If I had to announce publicly my situation, there is no way I would have gone to the police
anon, UK
I have been a victim of sexual crime and if I had to announce publicly my situation, there is no way I would have gone to the police. I think it is important, as in my case, for abusers to be named as they could have done it to someone else. It is extremely hard to get a conviction for these types of crime, and the more evidence the better. However, I think there are many women out there who abuse the system and lie. If the "victim" chooses to lie and destroy another human's life like this, I think they should lose their right to anonymity and be charged. It's just not fair on the person they accused and the many real victims out there who have a hard enough time being heard.
anon, UK

Those who say why should we have anonymity in sex cases when we don't for other cases are missing the obvious. If you are accused of theft and are found not guilty most people assume that you are not guilty. If you are found not guilty of a sex crime, too many people (such as 'Rob, England' below) seem to assume that you were guilty but got off on a technicality. We should have different rules because the attitude of the public and the press mean that the circumstances are completely different.
Simon, Sussex, England

Trials are public, as are arrest details of individuals. Otherwise, you have the possibility of a Police State and illegal imprisonment. I firmly blame the public with their never-ending appetite for the tittle-tattle of celebrities.
John, UK

As long as people presume 'no smoke without fire' and the tabloids print any gossip they pick up then there must be some kind of protection for the accused in cases like this.
Andy Ross, UK

If names don't find their way into the public domain, other victims don't come forward
Anon - because I'm entitled!, UK
I have recently gone to the police over a historical rape case relating to assaults against me from the time I was 3 years old until I was 8. The police are in no doubt over what happened but the case will never go to court unless others come forward with stories that match. Firstly I don't see why I should be prevented from telling the truth just because the case will never go to court - surely the right to tell the truth about one's experiences is a fairly fundamental human right. And secondly, if names don't find their way into the public domain, other victims don't come forward.

The child protection officer I was talking to this week told me of a case in which he was dealing with someone abused at a boarding school. The information had been taken up by the press and three other victims had come forward as a result, independently and with stories that matched up and couldn't have been created from the press story. They had all thought they were entirely alone and wouldn't! have come forward without the press coverage. Give the accused anonymity and all even more historical cases will fail, and sexual abusers will be free to carry on their abuse.
Anon - because I'm entitled!, UK

The same arguments that are used to preserve the identity of the victim in sex cases can be used to argue that the same should be true for suspects. A suspect is innocent until either he pleads guilty or a guilty verdict is reached. We should either have a system where both victim and suspect are protected or neither is. I believe in today's society that there is too much sensationalist journalism concerning high profile cases and suspects prior to any court appearances. What worries me is that this gives the defence grounds to argue that the defendant cannot get a fair trial due to the jury having been swayed by media reporting. In extreme circumstances this could be raised as grounds for a case to be dismissed. The time has come for more responsible reporting from the press rather than the gutter gossip we are constantly subjected to.
Jez, Chesham UK

Anonymity should be granted to both parties in cases like this. Otherwise, if you want to ruin someone's career (and there are plenty of people who revel in such behaviour) just accuse them of rape or child abuse. The media won't ask questions.
Andy, UK

I believe that anonymity should be given to both the victim and the accused in sex cases, as well as other high profile cases. With gossip and media being what it is, it is easy to forget that there are human lives behind the name, and many people beyond the spotlight suffer harassment and humiliation. And what is left? The memory of the story, rather than the memory of the outcome.
Jenny Jordan, USA

I'm so glad John Leslie had the charges dropped against him. It's amazing how many people jump on the bandwagon just to get money, not realising the torment the accused go through even though they are innocent. These people should be brought to justice and sent to jail themselves for wasting everyone's time. It will show these people that they cannot make spurious claims. It makes a farce of genuine rape cases.
Brian Elliott, Northern Ireland

Too many lives have been ruined by sensationalism for the sake of sales
Andy Twiss, UK
"Innocent until proven guilty" I believe it says somewhere. Since we now live in a "trial by media" society, I believe the only way to adhere to this tenet is to give all defendants, be they for sexual cases or otherwise, anonymity. The media, of whatever form, should be prosecuted and heavily fined for even the slightest implication that a person who under English law is still legally innocent might be guilty. I really do hope that John Leslie, who is still legally innocent, presses for maximum damages from those instruments of the media who chose to try him by their own standards before he had even appeared in court. Heads must roll for this, too many lives have been ruined by sensationalism for the sake of sales.
Andy Twiss, UK

John has had his career ruined by these allegations, let alone his reputation. He now has to rebuild his life whilst the "victim" is anonymous. Whilst it is traumatic for victims of sex offences that are proven true, it also seems unfair that in a country where a person is innocent until proven guilty, he is treated as guilty by the press and by losing his job.
Jeanette Bartlett, Australia

On the face of it, it seems that giving anonymity to the suspect would be the fairest option. However, as Yvonne has mentioned, why should sex cases be treated any differently to other cases? I would suggest a review of the sentencing of accusers who make false claims. They should be imprisoned for as long as the defendant would have been if found guilty. This should be a good enough deterrent for those making false claims.
Toby, UK

Suspects should absolutely remain anonymous. The mere suggestion of guilt in such cases casts a public shadow over a person's character regardless of the accuracy of such an accusation. Perfectly innocent people can have their reputations permanently destroyed by slanderous and unjust remarks. Once someone is proven guilty - by all means name them.
Tim, Australia

That defendants should have anonymity should not be in any doubt in a modern society. There is no reason why innocent people should be tainted and suffer abuse at the hands of the public and media and it cannot be helpful to a fair trial. People are always much readier to believe a scandal than innocence and that should be recognised. It is unfair and unhelpful to name people who have not been proven guilty in a court of law.
Jonathan, UK

The reality of being a victim and facing the ordeal of appearing before a court of law should not be misunderstood. You become the accused and receive nothing in the way of protection from the system. This is more than can be said for the 'accused' who can say nothing if he or she so wishes. Evidence good enough to secure a conviction often only comes from the victims of crime. Victims who may or may not have the luxury of anonymity.
Paul, England

Anonymity is the only way to counter those complaints & allegations made for malicious and vexatious purposes. I am especially worried about cases where the media have played into the hands of false accusers, such as the woman who has accused John Leslie, by printing the name of the accused whilst preserving the identity of the accuser. Reprinting allegations under the pretence of serving the public interest - sometimes aided by the use of the chequebook to gather information - will only perpetuate this situation.
Sarah Martin, UK

No one should have anonymity. Not even the victim.
Jason Brooker, UK
I can't believe anyone is discussing anonymity for the accused in a rape case. If the victim has anonymity already we would then have an entire case being held without any kind of public scrutiny. The law has to be open and transparent in any democracy which means no one should have anonymity. Not even the victim.
Jason Brooker, UK

In response to Jason Brooker's comment that the law has to remain open to public scrutiny: Nobody is saying that people, including members of the press, will not be able to visit a trial as an onlooker, or know who the defendant is, but simply that they will not be able to publish the defendant's name. The idea that accountability only comes through the amazingly partisan and biased British media is just wrong.
James, London, UK

As someone who has studied and written about false allegations of rape for some years I am staggered by the maturity of the debate (by both men and women), so far, on these pages. A few years ago this would simply have not been possible and I believe the media, whatever its many shortcomings, have allowed the public to be better informed on what really happens to innocently accused men in such cases.

With regards to comments made by "Wendy, UK" - many cases are thrown out not because of the nature of the crimes but because the evidence is either not there or is precarious. Many rape cases can be said to boil down to a "He said v She said" scenario. It would also be wrong to suggest that only a tiny percentage of cases actually go to court implying a low conviction rate. In fact, the conviction rate for those cases that do go to court is around 50% and is highly comparable with many others crimes.
Robert Whiston, UK

I hope John Leslie will now be given his job back
Fiona, Scotland
Given the changes in morality over the past 50 years, I can see no reason why the victim/accuser of a sexual crime should any longer feel the need for anonymity. One huge advantage of the present day is that a woman who has been assaulted is no longer seen as 'ruined' by society. Publishing their name would signal the fact that they will not be shunned by society for ever more, but rather regarded as what they really are... someone who has been subjected to a crime. I hate the word victim, that must make their experience worse. As for naming the accused, it should make no difference if society is prepared to uphold the foundation of the British judicial system, that all are innocent until proven guilty. The tabloids sell because they appeal to the basest of natures, and sadly the basest of natures will continue to buy them. I hope John Leslie will now be given his job back, with a fulsome apology. He should have been suspended on full pay until proved guilty.
Fiona, Scotland

"Fiona, Scotland" seems to have forgotten that, even with our changes in morality, there is one crime that even to be accused of will bring the mob to your door. That crime is sexual assault of a child. Never mind protecting the accused - a friend's little niece had to be rescued when the mob burned her neighbour's house. Anonymity for the neighbour might have prevented the attempted murder of this child by thoughtless arsonists.
Simon Richardson, UK

While it is important to protect the accuser from ridicule and embarrassment, it is more important to keep from convicting and sentencing an innocent person. The offence itself is degrading and the trial is as well. Just add a few more years to the sentence if the person is guilty. Don't put innocent people in prison.
Jim Rea, USA

The onus should be with the prosecution to demonstrate a defendant's guilt, beyond reasonable doubt, in a court of law - until then the defendant is innocent in the eyes of the law and should remain anonymous in all cases. As well as protecting the reputations of those who are falsely accused, it would reduce the danger of otherwise sound prosecution cases collapsing due to the high level of pre-trial publicity being shown to have prejudiced a jury.
Paul, England

I have always said that it is unfair to name possible sex attackers because they are celebrities. People that have been found guilty, maybe, but look at others that have been named and "shamed"- Matthew Kelly, for example. He has to win back the public support now his name has been cleared, and he is finding it extremely tough to do so. This is what John Leslie will have to battle too. I feel extremely sorry for him.
Emma, UK

The law becomes irrelevant when mob psychology is involved
Adrian, UK
I would point out that as soon as someone is named even as a possible suspect, the local community is up in arms, demanding their removal. Named suspects become targets of hatred and possible vigilante attacks. If they are then cleared, it's 'Oh sorry.' and off the next one with no punishment given to those who incite. Unfortunately, the Law becomes irrelevant when mob psychology is involved and that's what the Media aims at. Why? Because the story can be sold from another angle. Lets be honest, the Media will NEVER champion an 'Anonymity Law'. If they REALLY wanted it, they simply wouldn't name people.
Adrian, UK

Just because the charges have been dropped does not mean that he is innocent. As with any other case, if the CPS does not see any prospect of a conviction then the case will not continue. Who knows what has happened in the background? Maybe the (alleged) victims have decided they can't face the thought of trial and having the past dragged up to haunt them. That said though, I do think that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, an having your name plastered all over the newspapers and television doesn't help that at all.
Rob, England

Rob's comment that "Just because the charges have been dropped does not mean that he is innocent" is outrageous. It means exactly that - innocent until proven guilty. I hope John Leslie is significantly compensated for his ordeal and is given his job back. Meanwhile, after the Paul Burrell trial, the Damilola Taylor farce and other high profile legal collapses, isn't it about time the CPS underwent a major reform?
John, United Kingdom

I trust that those who made these false claims, including Matthew Wright who blurted it out on Ch 5, will be held to account - damages and legal costs won't go any where near restoring the shattered reputation of John Leslie. You may be innocent until proven guilty but it doesn't seem that way. The press are quick to jump on the bandwagon, particularly where that person is famous. No names until guilt proven.
Anonymous , UK

It's interesting to see how many people here support "innocent until proven guilty" yet so many people support Tony Martin's decision to presume guilt
Chris, UK

Anonymity in a high profile case is futile
Colin MacDonald, Scotland
Anonymity in a high profile case is futile. For example, there is nothing legally - or morally, now - to stop Scottish media from discovering and publishing the details of John Leslie's accuser. The only solution is for us to actually act on the presumption of innocence. Just for starters, I hope Mr Leslie wins an obscene amount from his ex-employers, and it wouldn't be beyond the pale for him to sue his accuser for slander and libel. It's just a shame that he will have to do so himself, rather than the state taking a hand.
Colin MacDonald, Scotland

The biggest problem in this an other cases is the role of the media. Most tabloids view an accused as guilty. They write prurient copy designed to generate sales with no thought for the consequences. This alone requires that an accused should be granted anonymity.
Robin Davies, Wales

Suspects in other crimes don't have anonymity - why should an exception be made for sex case suspects?
Yvonne Joyce, UK

I am in two minds about this. Yes sometimes people make these things up, and it is a shame they go through the public humiliation of being accused of something they didn't do. However I have been raped and believe me it tears your world apart. I would rather know about a suspect, and make an informed choice as to be alone with them etc, than be in a situation like that again.
Anonymous, Wolverhampton, UK

With all due respect to the harrowing experience that Anonymous, Wolverhampton has been through, the point that they make highlights EXACTLY why the suspect should not be named. They say that they what to know who the suspects are so they can decide if they can be trusted - but surely this misses the point that innocent people will then be stigmatised and have their lives destroyed without basis. The same mind set would also claim that "there is no smoke without fire" presumably?
Adam, UK

As a lawyer I am amazed that this unfair situation can continue. People who accuse others of rape or sexual assault now benefit from anonymity rules, but those who are accused do not. Perhaps Matthew Kelly and John Leslie can draw comfort from the fact that Craig Charles's career went from strength to strength after he was acquitted of rape in 1994.
David Farmbrough, England

No-one takes a rape or assault case to court for the hell of it
Wendy, UK
Most aspects of cases like this need to be overhauled - from raking over the victim's sexual history to the anonymity of the accused. Cases like this are common, with the cleared man remaining tainted. I doubt Leslie will work again in TV. The flip side to all this is that many cases are thrown out because of the nature of the crimes the evidence is rarely usable. Add to that only a tiny percentage of cases actually go to court let alone be reported. It has to be said, that with the odds stacked against them no-one takes a rape or assault case to court for the hell of it.
Wendy, UK

"The prosecution gladly acknowledges that he will leave this court without a stain on his character from this investigation." What a load of rubbish, people will remember this and wonder whenever his name is mentioned.
Fraser, UK

The comment from Fraser about people remembering this incident whenever Mr Leslie's name is true - but surely he will be remembered as yet another victim. The stains in this case will not be attached to him but to the person making the untruthful allegation. However, it is another example of how easy it is for a person to lose their reputation because of the failure of the law to recognise innocent until proven guilty.
Philip, England

For any accused to get a fair trial a jury has to put all previous knowledge of a case out of their minds and consider only the evidence put before them. Unfortunately we live in a media controlled world, where people are tried and convicted by newspapers and TV, who convert hearsay and innuendo into 'indisputable truth'. This means it is unlikely any member of a jury can effectively try a case such as this one without prejudice. John Leslie is but one more victim of a media that has grown too powerful. All accused are innocent until proved otherwise by a court. No naming of any accused person should be allowed until the case has come to trial and a conviction made.
Barry, London

I don't think people under suspicion should be anonymous
Mike, UK
I don't think people under suspicion should be anonymous. If for example a person who works with children is being investigated then people should know. That is not to say though, that those facing trial should be 'guilty until proven innocent'.
Mike, UK

The complainant is entitled to life-long anonymity, but she made what in law must be regarded as malicious allegations because the court has had to enter verdicts of not guilty on both counts, and therefore either Mr Leslie is entitled to sue or have her prosecuted. What would become of her anonymity then I wonder?
Steve, UK

The vast majority of sex case suspects are never named anyway, so for the law to be changed to protect celebrities is pathetic. Also, those people who are innocent, such as John Leslie are usually acquitted and if they are in the public eye then the media will duly report on their innocence in the future. However if 'sex pests' were allowed to remain anonymous, how many would then go on to use their anonymity to commit more crimes? The Lord Chief Justice should not be following in New Labour's "knee-jerk reaction to anything printed in a tabloid newspaper" philosophy, and get around to reforming the law with regards to the rights of criminals, such as Brendan Fearon. Who have too many.
Alex Jones, England

Victims should come forward of their own volition and not because the accused is splashed all over the papers
Terri Sharpe, England
In this country a person is innocent until proven guilty, the media seem to overlook this at any given opportunity. I believe the accused as well as the victim should get anonymity, and I do not believe that naming a suspect can be justified to encourage other victims to come forward. Victims should come forward of their own volition and not because the accused is splashed all over the papers. Ask the Hamiltons, John Leslie, or Craig Charles who have all been accused, branded and subsequently cleared.
Terri Sharpe, England

Having been falsely accused of rape by a woman I spurned, I then spent 28 hours in custody until my (female) flatmate returned home and told the investigating officer what had happened at the time of the alleged offence, I'm glad that I wasn't the victim of the publicity that Mr Leslie has suffered. The woman who accused me got "a talking to" from the police officer - I suffered untold anguish for over a day, and even began to believe that I could have committed the crime, such were the questions I was repeatedly asked. Anonymity of both parties is essential for justice to be possible.
Anonymous, UK

It is claimed that the accused cannot remain anonymous until conviction because this would prevent further accusers coming forward. The same logic applies to the accuser: others who were falsely accused might come forward. Anonymity should apply to both parties or none. The Law should also be changed so that the full penalty for the alleged crime applies automatically to those proven to have made a false accusation.
Mike Holmes, Scotland

Accused in the headlines, cleared on page 30
Andrew, England
All rape suspects should be allowed to remain anonymous until proven guilty. A good friend of mine was falsely accused of rape, I know this because I was his alibi and I can assure you that at the time he was over 200 miles from the scene of the crime. His name was made public by an ambitious copper and his reputation in the area was shot. Accused in the headlines, cleared on page 30 by the adverts for the holiday cottages in Devon. He moved away and changed his name, because no one would believe that this was one case at least where there was smoke but no fire. His accuser still lives there, her life is untouched by her actions. His was destroyed. And yet they are both equally innocent.
Andrew, England

In all such cases information as to the suspects identity should be kept secret unless and until a judge rules that publication of his (or her) identity is in the public interest. This would give particularly public figures such as John Leslie some protection from the media, who in cases such as this seem to delight in publishing as much information as they can get away with not because it is in the public interest but simply to sell their papers.
Sue, Scotland

The Townsend and Matthew Kelly cases made it clear earlier this year that the press cares not for the protection of one's rights when it comes to sensationalise cases that have the word SEX in them. The rape shield law should also protect the accused and the police are the only ones who can protect the public so they can keep the accused under watch. Why does someone in another part of Britain need to know? Especially when it risks the good name of an honest person.
Debbie , Canada

They need to sell papers but is there no line they won't cross to do it?
Andy, UK
Is it a problem with the law or is it more to do with the 'freedom of speech' the media have in this country? With certain tabloids there are things written that over step the mark of fair, decent and what should be legal. As had already been said by other people you don't read an article without taking a little part of it away with you, be it positive or negative. They need to sell papers but is there no line they won't cross to do it?
Andy, UK

The mere allegation is a permanent stain on a person's character, because sex crime is such an emotive issue. The balance must be restored. Either both parties are named, or both parties remain anonymous. John Leslie has been dragged through the mud for nothing, and while he now tries to rebuild his life, his accuser and her fictitious accusations can remain anonymous and not be answerable for her actions.
John Ellis, UK

Innocent until proven guilty. That should always be the case with criminal charges. Keeping such things secret will always be difficult, but certain rights need protection. Leslie lost his job due to his investigation. I think Granada TV probably had a right to take him off air until the case had been brought to court, but should have retained him on full pay. Surely being sacked before guilt is proven is a case for tribunal.
James Ollerenshaw, London, UK

How could Leslie get a fair trial after multiple women sold their stories?
James McNamara, London
It isn't a case of should suspects remain anonymous. It is a case of whether we should let the media interfere with justice. How could Leslie get a fair trial after multiple women sold their stories without going to the police first? The elements of the media who tamper with justice should be bought before a judge and made an example of.
James McNamara, London

John has lost his job and had his character besmirched. The long term damage to his career is unknown. He should have the right to sue for his loss of earnings.
Sirdar Vidari, Eire

John Leslie has bought much of the difficulty upon himself, by a failure to make a clear statement when the allegations were first raised, this is not a case for changing the law. Stopping the naming of defendants will offer them little protection from the difficulties of the experience, the Leslie experience seems to highlight that even without charges, there are a lot of rumours and talk within circles and business colleagues. What is worrying, that given the difficulty of getting women to come forward, that not naming offers a charter for sex offenders.
Barry B, UK

I think if the accused is proved innocent beyond doubt, then the accuser needs to be named and shamed. People are completely ruined by these false allegations and stigmatised for life.
Seliat, UK

Secrecy in the legal system always leads to abuse
Michael, USA
Secrecy in the legal system always leads to abuse by prosecutors and law enforcement. There is no known way to avoid this, but making all information available to the public makes it more likely that the truth will prevail. Hiding behind "pain avoidance" is a weak argument. Those who are found to have made malicious or false claims must be held accountable in a serious way, including jail time.
Michael, USA

Here, the CPS must be at fault. Its amazing that this poor fellow has had to have his life ruined, then have all the charges brought by the CPS dropped. Someone in the CPS must be held accountable !
Paul, UK

HJ, UK

It would be nice to think such info could be kept secret but sometimes the police say publicity is necessary in order to gather evidence. What should be illegal is any qualitative comment by the TV or print media. Anything other than 'Mr X has been charged with Y and police want to speak to anyone who might have relevant evidence' should be illegal and it should also be illegal to suspend the person from their job until they are convicted. Of course nothing will change and more John Leslies will have their lives ruined.
Niall Clarke, Manchester

It gives other people the chance to come forward
Pam Malarry, England
The only argument for allowing the naming of these alleged sexual offenders is that it gives other people who may have been attacked by the same person the chance to come forward. The question is whether this is a good enough reason to potentially destroy an innocent person's reputation for good.
Pam Malarry, England

A woman can cry wolf with impunity while an innocent man's life is wrecked - this cannot be right. Equally, cases like this cast doubt on the claims of genuine victims - which cannot be right either.
Frank Church, UK

I have been raped and sexually assaulted but would not wish an innocent person to be persecuted purely because the law does not protect the 'innocent until proven guilty' line. It doesn't matter how many times a paper prints the word 'alleged' it is the content of the accusation that is remembered and the majority of people think 'there is no smoke without fire'.
Tracey, UK

I think all sex case suspects should go public no matter who. The public's got a right to know so that we can be cautious.
Patricia, UK

It should be for a judge to decide if someone should be named, on the weight of evidence that will be presented or if trying to prove a pattern of behaviour by publicising a case. If it is found that a person has falsely accused someone, they should face exactly the same punishment as the accused would have faced had they been found guilty.
SHB, UK




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