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:

New: Get Oxford Mail news alerts sent direct to your phone via Whatsapp

Oxford Mail: Whats App logo

11:50am Tuesday 3rd June 2014

OXFORD Mail readers can now sign up to get major breaking news alerts sent direct to their mobile phones with a new service using Whatsapp.

Set for a battle of Blenheim over 1,500 homes plan

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014

RESIDENTS in Woodstock have vowed to “fight until the bitter end” against plans to build up to 1,500 homes east of the town.

Delays of up to 40 minutes on bus services across the county

Oxford Mail: Traffic Alert general

9:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014

STAGECOACH Oxfordshire has warned that passengers face delays of up to 40 minutes this morning.

Harassment cop sacked for gross misconduct

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:30am Tuesday 9th September 2014

A DETECTIVE has been sacked after harassing a member of police staff, the force said yesterday.

Fears as boat owners’ group claims new area of riverbank

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Tuesday 9th September 2014

RESIDENTS say they are worried about another attempt by boat owners to grab land alongside waterways in the city.

Mum cleared of breaking baby daughter’s leg

Oxford Mail: The Horton General Hospital, Banbury

6:30am Tuesday 9th September 2014

A TEENAGER accused of breaking her baby daughter’s leg broke down in tears as she was cleared yesterday.

Oh baby! Royal fans pass on best to Kate

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Tuesday 9th September 2014

THE NEWS that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second child was met with joy around the world.

Detective fired from Thames Valley Police after harassing member of police staff

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

3:27pm Monday 8th September 2014

A DETECTIVE has been fired from Thames Valley Police after harassing a member of police staff.

Appleton's half-time blast does the trick for Oxford United

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Monday 8th September 2014

DANNY Hylton revealed a half-time blast from Oxford United head coach Michael Appleton was the key to a vastly-improved performance as they hit back to claim a 1-1 draw at Southend United.

Wired for fun

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 8th September 2014

OXFORDSHIRE County Council leader Ian Hudspeth opened Woodstock’s new play area by hurtling down a zip wire.

Campsfield extension would create 80 new ‘local’ jobs

Oxford Mail: The proposed centre at Arncott would be a secure site like Campsfield

8:30am Monday 8th September 2014

ABOUT 80 jobs for local people will be created if an extension goes ahead at Campsfield House immigration detention centre, Kidlington, it has been revealed.

Rise in cases hits force

Oxford Mail: Police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld

8:30am Monday 8th September 2014

NEARLY 500 new domestic abuse victims came forward last year with the police warning of increased pressure on the cash-strapped force.

Pub garden brews up a music and ale festival

Oxford Mail:

7:10am Monday 8th September 2014

BEER and cider was flowing all weekend at an Oxford pub festival.

Rower Cracknell MP?

Oxford Mail: James Cracknell

7:00am Monday 8th September 2014

Former British rowing champion and Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell may stand for election as an MP in Banbury, it has been claimed.

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