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:

Nick Clegg launches Lib Dem election campaign in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Sunday 29th March 2015

DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Abingdon this afternoon to launch the Liberal Democrats' campaign for the General Election.

Video: Organisers praise dedication of OX5 runners who braved the elements

Oxford Mail:

12:58pm Sunday 29th March 2015

HUNDEREDS of people lined the gardens of Blenheim Palace on a wet and windy Sunday to cheer on the runners of today's OX5 Run.

Low power reported in Cumnor and Marcham

Oxford Mail: light bulb with power lines

12:14pm Sunday 29th March 2015

PEOPLE have been left with reduced electricity this afternoon after power problems hit Cumnor and Marcham.

Ukip opens first Oxfordshire office in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

11:34am Sunday 29th March 2015

THE UK Independence Party (UKIP) opened its first Oxfordshire office in Abingdon this morning.

Rail delays between Didcot and Reading reported

Oxford Mail: A First Great Western High Speed Train

11:17am Sunday 29th March 2015

DELAYS of up to 25 minutes are being experienced by rail passengers travelling between Didcot Parkway and Reading this morning.

UPDATED: Man charged with 19 crimes against 10 people appears in court after slavery raids

Oxford Mail:

8:14am Saturday 28th March 2015

A 44-YEAR-OLD man has appeared in court this morning charged with 19 offences against 10 people following Thursday's anti-slavery raids.

Surgeries get £6.4m to extend buildings

Oxford Mail: NHS

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

THREE Oxfordshire GP surgeries have been awarded a total of £6.4m to expand.

Child rapist jailed for 18 years after string of brutal attacks

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

A 62-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed for 18 years for a brutal campaign of rape that started when his victim was 10 or 11.

Oxford United leave it late on whether O'Dowda starts against Carlisle

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

Michael Appleton will make a late call on his line-up, with a decision to be made on whether Callum O’Dowda is fit to start the crunch home clash with Carlisle United this afternoon.

Body in river is paedophile headteacher + video

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

A PAEDOPHILE due to be sentenced for molesting young boys was the man found dead in the River Thames on Tuesday.

Bollywood’s ‘Tom Cruise’ proves a big hit at Blenheim

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

MOVIE legend Tom Cruise filmed his latest Mission Impossible blockbuster at Blenheim Palace in December.

Get an appointment with the doctor via email or video link

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

VIDEO and email GP appointments will allow people in Oxfordshire to see their doctor at evenings and weekends in a year-long pilot.

Customers welcomed by staff gnomes

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

GNOME matter what they looked like, staff at a Frilford garden centre donned fancy dress to help raise funds for charity.

School head turns away 200 children over lack of places

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

A HEADTEACHER has said a lack of funding forced his secondary school to turn away more than 200 pupils.

 

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