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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 15:36 GMT
False accusers 'should be named'
Warren Blackwell
Warren Blackwell was freed after more than three years in prison
A man who was jailed but later cleared over false sexual assault claims by a woman has said people who make up allegations should be named publicly.

Warren Blackwell, of Woodford Halse, Northamptonshire, who spent over three years in jail, said the law had failed.

"Her anonymity remains, protected by a law designed to protect genuine victims of rape," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

Ministers are looking at alternatives to the law, but one women's group said a change would be a "national scandal".

Mr Blackwell was convicted of indecent assault at Northampton Crown Court in 1999 and spent three years and four months in jail.

We are considering whether the law on complainant anonymity requires amendment
Lord Goldsmith
Attorney general

His conviction was quashed last year by the Court of Appeal and the judges recommended that details of his accuser be circulated among police forces to avoid similar cases in the future.

"The law makes no allowances to name and shame false accusers," Mr Blackwell told Today.

"For men like me, who have been the victims of a false allegation, the law has failed.

"If justice is going to be even-handed and applied to everyone equally, then the law has to change."

Annie Johnston, who acted as Mr Blackwell's barrister, said judges should have the power to stop people making up allegations that are completely unfounded.

"In cases where fabrication is overwhelming, the complainant is clearly lying, then the trial just should have the discretion to lift the anonymity," she said.

Risk of lambasting

Since 1976, complainants in sexual assault cases have had their identities protected.

But last October, a Labour peer named Mr Blackwell's accuser in the House of Lords.

And earlier this week, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith confirmed he was looking at amending to the law.

"We are considering whether the law on complainant anonymity requires amendment, in the light of the Court of Appeal judgment in the Blackwell case," he told the House of Lords.

Groups working with rape victims do not believe complainants should lose their anonymity.

Lisa Longstaff, of Women Against Rape, drew attention to the fact that the conviction rate for rape is just five per cent.

"I think it is a national scandal that the government is considering tinkering with the law on anonymity at all - let alone that they are also considering keeping a DNA database of women who have made so-called false allegations," she said.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
One man wrongly imprisoned for rape gives his view on the current law



SEE ALSO
Sex assault claim woman is named
19 Oct 06 |  UK Politics
Man jailed for sex attack cleared
12 Sep 06 |  Northamptonshire

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