Justice Secretary Robert Buckland slapped down by No10 for backing anonymity for rape suspects
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has been slapped down by Number 10 after suggesting some suspects in rape cases should remain anonymous until they are charged.
He said the reform may be needed to protect the "good name" of high-profile individuals facing serious accusations.
It comes after Sir Cliff Richard and Paul Gambaccini launched a campaign to ban the naming of those arrested on suspicion of rape and other sex crimes.
Mr Buckland's surprise intervention came just a week after he was appointed to the role by Boris Johnson.
Speaking to The Times, he said: "Let’s say you are a reputable local businessperson who is accused of fraud. Your good name is going to be really undermined by this mere accusation. You are a person of good character. That might be a meritorious case for anonymity.”
He added: “Let’s say you are a person with a list of previous convictions. You’ve committed offences. There is intelligence out there that suggests that other victims might come forward. Is that a case where anonymity should be automatic?”
But he was immediately contradicted by a Downing Street spokesman, who said: "This is not government policy."
Currently victims of sexual offences are guaranteed lifetime anonymity under law, but anyone charged with an offence has their name published.
Labour MP Stella Creasy accused the minister of making a law based “on the belief women lie”.
She tweeted: “Not this old chestnut! Tell you what Robert Buckland, bring this in for ALL crimes, not just those where majority of victims are women, and you might have a case.
“Otherwise you're basing actual law making on the belief women lie. Really thought you were better than this tbh...”
Mr Buckland replied, at 1.43am on Thursday morning, to day: “Thanks for the tweet, Stella.
“I agree that particular crimes should not be singled out, particularly sexual allegations.”
Sir Cliff and Mr Gambacini, who were named as part of the Met’s Operation Yewtree into historical sexual offences, are both members of the pressure group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform.