PMQs: 14th December 2016

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
Money cannot compensate someone who has been accused of a very serious criminal offence and who then finds that the details are in the press along with their name. Nothing, in truth, can restore their reputation after it has been trashed in those circumstances. In 2011, I tried to change the law with a private Member’s Bill. Today, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that it was time to introduce new legislation. Will the Prime Minister agree at least to consider changing the law so that everyone, with a few exceptions, has the right to anonymity if they are a suspect in criminal proceedings until such time as they are charged?

The Prime Minister
I recognise the interest that my right hon. Friend takes in this issue. She will know that it has been debated on a number of occasions in the House. The general assumption is that someone should ​not be named before the point of charge, but there is an allowance for the police to be able to raise someone’s name if it is a case where they believe that doing so will perhaps help other victims to come forward. This is of particular concern in matters of sexual violence—rape, for example—or where the police believe that the naming of an individual will help in the detection of the crime. This is a delicate issue, and I recognise my right hon. Friend’s concern. The College of Policing is looking at it very carefully, and is due to provide new guidance to the police in the new year in relation to the media.