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Court Proceedings (Blackmail Victims)

Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1978

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asked the Lord Advocate if he is satisfied with the arrangements for anonymity of blackmail victims in any court proceedings.

Prior to the trial the prosecution can take steps to ensure that the address of a blackmail victim is not pub- lished. At the trial the address of a victim would not normally be given in open court if he did not wish it to be disclosed. Where the court indicates to the Press that anonymity is desirable the practice is not to publish the name and address of a witness. I have no reason to suppose that these arrangements have proved inadequate.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer and for recognising that the victim has the right to request that his name and address is not published. Will he reconsider the view that he has advanced in correspondence with me that clearly it would be wrong for the Crown Office to advise the victim of that right? Does he agree that it is very much in the Crown Office's interest that the victim should be protected from publicity, as it is fear of publicity which deters many victims from reporting to the police an offence which many people find particularly distasteful?

I certainly agree with the third point which my hon. Friend has made, and I think I agree with the sense of his second point. With regard to the first point, I must assure my hon. Friend that we are not talking about a right. The victim does not have the right of anonymity. However, we—I am speaking for the prosecution here—take all steps that we can to ensure anonymity of a victim or a witness who is in fear when giving evidence in court.