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Commons Amendment

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 13th November 2003.

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Photo of Lord Carlisle of Bucklow Lord Carlisle of Bucklow Conservative 6:00 pm, 13th November 2003

My Lords, I have listened carefully to the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, but there is one genuine problem: what do you do during the course of a trial if the anonymity of the defendant is to remain at that time? You will be immediately accused by the press of interfering with its right to report public trials. If there is a sensational trial taking place, say, at the Old Bailey, and you attempt to retain anonymity, everyone will know effectively who the defendant is. He will be seen walking to court and coming back from court. Or, if he is not recognised, rumours will start that it is someone else being tried.

Obviously the ideal would be to have anonymity all the way through but there is a practical argument that the time when it is really effective is up until charge, when there is no reason, if anonymity is imposed, for people to get round it. In other words, anonymity would work until charged, but I wonder whether it would work during the course of a trial.