Oxford Union president wants anonymity for those accused of rape

Oxford Union president wants anonymity for those accused of rape

Ben Sullivan

Sarah Pine

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

THE president of the Oxford Union believes people accused of rape should have their identities kept secret until police are sure there is a solid case.

Ben Sullivan was arrested on suspicion of rape and attempted rape last month but police dropped the case on Wednesday.

Now Mr Sullivan has called for a change whereby people like himself who are arrested cannot be named publicly initially, because of the “incredibly poisonous allegations”.

However, Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis centre service manager Natalie Brook disagreed with the history and politics student.

Police forces rarely name people who have been arres-ted, but not charged. Howe-ver, there is no legal barrier stopping the media or any member of the public naming the arrested person.

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight on Thursday, Mr Sullivan, 21, said: “I’m not of the extremist sort who don’t think you should have your identity revealed until you’ve been convicted, or even necessarily after being charged.

“What I don’t agree with is that everyone’s identity is automatically revealed the minute they are arrested.

“I think there should be some sort of happy medium whereby your identity is protected initially, until at least the conclusion of a preliminary investigation.

“I would never say that everyone's identity in the circumstances should be kept secret.”

However, Ms Brook said: “We are concerned giving anonymity to those accused of rape and sexual offences serves only to entrench a myth that women who report these crimes are more likely to be lying than someone who is reporting another kind of crime.

“It is in the public interest to publish names of the accused as it encourages other victims of the same alleged perpetrator to come forward.”

She said false rape allegations were “very rare” and made up as little as one per cent of all reports, adding: “Only an estimated 15 per cent of the 85,000 women who are raped and 400,000 who are sexually assaulted every year in England and Wales currently report to the police. The conviction rate for reported rapes remains at about six per cent. It is clear there is no justification for exceptional treatment for those accused of rape.”

She echoed the thoughts of Sarah Pine, who appeared on Newsnight alongside Mr Sullivan. During the programme, the vice president for women at Oxford Student Union and leader of the campaign to boycott the debating society, said: “If someone is named it encourages other people to come forward.

“It helps the police investigations go much smoother.”

She said the idea of anonymity for those accused would “protect perpetrators of sexual violence rather than potential victims”.

Speaking on Newsnight, Mr Sullivan added: “I’m completely aware that it can be extremely useful to police investigations for people’s identities to be revealed for people to come forward.

“However, these are obviously incredibly poisonous allegations, they are incredibly difficult to deal with.”

Our top stories:

Pothole payouts in Oxfordshire double

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE amount of compensation claimed by Oxfordshire drivers for pothole damage more than doubled in two years.

A40 partially blocked this evening - by 50-60 sheep

Oxford Mail:

10:21pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE A40 is partially blocked at Wolvercote by up to 60 loose sheep.

Churchill’s memorial man still chiselling away after 66 years

Oxford Mail:

8:43pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral will be marked across Oxfordshire tomorrow.

Girl slept with accused sex attacker when she was aged 14, court told

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

8:39pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

A GIRL has claimed she had sex with a young man accused of grooming and exploiting teenagers in Banbury when she was 14 years old.

Snake fossil finds spark rethink of their history

Oxford Mail:

8:33pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

SNAKE fossils found in Oxfordshire have forced scientists to re-write their evolutionary story.

UPDATE:Services back to normal on Cotswold Line between Oxford and Worcester after person hit by train

Oxford Mail: A First Great Western High Speed Train

4:30pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Services have returned to normal between Oxford, Worcester and Hereford this afternoon after a person was hit by a train between Moreton-in-Marsh and Kingham.

No snow for Oxford again but chance of white morning in Chipping Norton and Banbury

Oxford Mail: Pictures of snow from across the county

6:45pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

SNOW is no longer expected to hit the majority of the county tomorrow morning.

Travellers leave Botley Road Waitrose site after being handed eviction notice

Oxford Mail:

5:52pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Travellers left the Waitrose site in Botley Road today after being handed a 24-hour eviction notice.

Jayden trial: Jury in Jake Blakeley case sent home until Tuesday

Oxford Mail: Jake Blakeley, 18, from Didcot

5:49pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE jury in the trial of Jake Blakeley will continue considering its verdict on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Tesco Metro in Bicester to shut wih 56 job losses after firm announces national closures

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Tesco Metro in Bicester will close on April 4.

27 dead in crashes in Oxfordshire last year

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

12:43pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

TWENTY-seven people died in traffic collisions across the county last year.

Last Didcot Power Station towers to be demolished next year

Oxford Mail:

12:00pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE three remaining cooling towers at the former Didcot A power station will be demolished in 2016, according to energy company RWE npower.

Man left with cut across face after being attacked in Banbury

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:51am Wednesday 28th January 2015

A MAN is in hospital after he was cut across the face by a stranger, police said.

Great grandfather travels in style right until the end

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 28th January 2015

A HORSE and carriage funeral procession made its way through the streets of Oxford yesterday as a great grandfather made his final journey.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree