A LAWYER has called on Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans to support his campaign for people accused of sexual offences to remain anonymous during trials.
Nick Freeman – nicknamed Mr Loophole – said he believed he could ‘put together a compelling case’ to change the law and allow defendants the same right to anonymity as complainants.
Mr Evans, who was acquitted of one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults in April, has previously labelled anonymity law ‘unbalanced’.
But the End Violence Against Women Coalition said the current government lawyers had already studied the issue and decided against changing the status quo.
Mr Freeman, who earned his name by defending celebrities charged with motoring offences including Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham and Andrew Flintoff, has campaigned to change the law for the past five years.
He said: “As soon as someone’s name is linked to a sexual crime the stigma remains, irrespective of guilt or innocence, unlike the complainant whose identity is shielded for life.
“I believe together we can persuade Parliament to look again at this issue, which has ruined the lives of countless individuals cleared of any wrongdoing.
“It is imperative we convict the guilty but not tarnish the lives of the innocent.”
Mr Evans said he had received a letter from Mr Freeman and would respond later this week.
He said: “The absence of anonymity before charge ruins careers and ruins people’s mental health, when it may turn out that no further action is taken. If the police have enough proof to say to a judge: ‘If this person’s name is out there, it would lead to something happening,’ then I would support a judge lifting anonymity, but the current situation is peculiar.”
Sarah Green, spokeswoman for the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The law is not going to change.
“We aren’t campaigning for it to stay the same because we don’t need to.
“In 2010 the coalition government pledged to look at this and in 2012 they backed down because there was no evidence to support a change in the law.
“All the evidence showed that this would be detrimental to open justice.
“Defendants in sex cases are afforded anonymity because they are often the only witnesses.
“The main issue lies with the way the media distorts the presumption of innocence.”