Can we change the law to allow people accused of a crime anonymity until / unless they are found guilty?
My idea is that the press would be barred from reporting on court cases until after the verdict has been given, and would then only be able to name the defendant in they were found guilty.
Why does this idea matter?
I am thinking not just of celebrities and politicians, but particularly of professionals such as doctors, teachers, police, social workers etc who have been accused of a crime, who find their name in the press only to be cleared of the crime somewhere down the line. This is also true of many people accused of sexual crimes. Their accussers are often granted anonymity, and yet it can have serious effects on an innocent person as people remember the headlines but not the facts.
If newspapers were banned from reporting on legal cases until after the court case, and then only naming people found guilty, it would be fairer and have less impact on the innocent. At present, anyone accused of a crime, which becomes big news, has their life ruined. I know of a number of people who have had to leave professions and had their career ruined by malicious prosecutions and lies. Yes, they were cleared by the courts, but they were left effectively unemployable, some cases have even commited suicide, because of the experience of publicity.
The freedom of the press should not extend to printing lies, which are big news at the time, but small news when they are exposed as false. However much the public might be interested in these cases, it is not in the Public Interest to see innocent people being accused, and effectively treated as guilty, in the press. According to the Human Rights act we have the right to a fair trial, a law like this would ensure the fair treatment of the accused when they are innocent.