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Sexual Assault: Naming of Victims

Volume 695: debated on Tuesday 18 May 2021

Complainants in rape and sexual offence cases are protected by automatic reporting restrictions. There is a lifetime ban on reporting any matter likely to identify a victim from the moment the offence is reported. As the Lord Chancellor has outlined, we are giving consideration to what more we could do to provide greater deterrence and punishment when an offence is committed.

While we still see instances of victims of sexual assault being named publicly, women continue to be silenced from naming their abusers by civil actions from those who are wealthy enough to take them. I wrote to the Prime Minister in March asking him to take action on this, but the Minister’s reply of 13 April missed this point entirely. Will he now say what steps he will take to prevent victims from being gagged by wealthy and powerful abusers in civil courts?

Obviously, we want to make sure that there is equity before the law, and no matter how rich or powerful someone is, they have to obey the rules as they are laid down. As the Lord Chancellor has outlined, we are giving consideration to what more we can do in this area to make sure that the anonymity of victims in this kind of case is protected and there is sufficient deterrent and punishment for those who name their own victims, or indeed those who are victims in court, so that it does not occur.