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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 Maclennan of Rogart Lord Maclennan of Rogart Liberal Democrat 6:00 pm, 13th November 2003

My Lords, I, too, am moved to support the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, if he seeks the opinion of the House, for the reasons which have already been given.

I have heard the argument from the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, that there might be some difficulty in persuading people—or hoping that there will be volunteers—to complain of such sexual attacks, if publicity were not available. However, in the event of there being a conviction, it appears to me that publicity of a kind would certainly be released at the conclusion of the trial which would encourage others who had experienced comparable events to come forward. It does not seem necessary to have the long, protracted, prurient reportage of these cases in order to achieve the result that the noble Baroness had in mind.

My noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford described his amendment as a step. It is indeed a step, but it does not go far enough to deal with the mischief that was eloquently described by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. Like other noble Lords, I would support my noble friend's amendment if it were to follow that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and an opportunity presented itself. However, I am bound to say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has put forward an irresistible case.