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:

'Major hope' that Caterham factory in Leafield could re-open despite F1 team also going into administration

Oxford Mail:

1:34pm Friday 24th October 2014

ADMINISTRATORS have been handed full management responsibility for the Caterham Formula One team in a bid to find a new buyer.

UPDATE: Hundreds line Woodstock's streets for 11th Duke of Marlborough's funeral

Oxford Mail:

11:40am Friday 24th October 2014

HUNDREDS of people have gathered outside St Mary Magdalene's church in Woodstock to pay their respects to the 11th Duke of Marlborough.

Elderly woman taken to hospital after A4074 crash

Oxford Mail: a4074 alert

1:01pm Friday 24th October 2014

AN ELDERLY woman was taken to hospital after two cars crashed on the A4074. 

FOOTBALL Rising star Roberts eager for Oxford United first-team action as Morris returns to Norwich

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Friday 24th October 2014

James Roberts is in no mood to rest on his laurels as the young Oxford United striker looks to feature in a fourth successive game when they visit Carlisle United tomorrow.

Blueprint for a £110m cancer research centre

Oxford Mail: Oxford Univesity logo white lettering blue background new logo

7:00am Friday 24th October 2014

A £110m cancer research centre is planned for Headington to study pioneering treatment with hundreds of county patients.

City roadworks hassle is worthwhile, says minister

Oxford Mail: OCC Cabinet member for transport, David Nimmo-Smith.

6:30am Friday 24th October 2014

MULTIPLE roadworks that cause city traffic gridlock are “worth it”, a minister has said.

Temporary Oxpens car park will have only half the space

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Friday 24th October 2014

A TEMPORARY replacement car park for Oxford’s Westgate multi-storey will provide less than half the number of spaces at present, it has been announced.

Oxfordshire bid for record Poppy Appeal total to mark centenary of start of First World War

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 23rd October 2014

PEOPLE in Oxfordshire are being urged to help break the £500,000 barrier for the first time as this year’s Poppy Appeal is launched today.

Judge criticises "catastrophic" CPS after trial postponement

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

2:30pm Thursday 23rd October 2014

A JUDGE has criticised a “catastrophic failure” by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which caused a trial to be put off until next year.

Hot-shot Danny Hylton on a high at Oxford United

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Thursday 23rd October 2014

DANNY Hylton thinks he is playing the best football of his career after a brace for Oxford United on Tuesday night made it ten goals for the season already.

Oxford's Lord Mayor gives ancient city walls the once-over

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 23rd October 2014

NOT crumbling too much and graffiti free: Oxford’s ancient city walls were given a clean bill of health in yesterday’s traditional inspection.

Hook Norton farm trailers stolen

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:40am Thursday 23rd October 2014

Food trailers were stolen from a Hook Norton farm over Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

More Oxfordshire churches ‘at risk’ says heritage group

Oxford Mail: DISTINCTIVE: The English Heritage flag will be flown most of the time

8:40am Thursday 23rd October 2014

Eight Oxfordshire churches have been added to English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk register.

Faringdon comes third in ranking of 'hotspot' places for families to live

Oxford Mail: Faringdon Folly Tower Open Day

8:40am Thursday 23rd October 2014

FARINGDON is the third best place for families to live in England and Wales, a new report claims.

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