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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: No, my Lords. I was merely alluding to the fact that the noble Lord was referring to the difficulty that comes after charge in managing. He was quite right to raise concern about the practicality of how one would seek to manage that. That does not mean in any way a failure to appreciate the concerns so ably outlined by my noble friend Lord Corbett, who mentioned the work that he and my noble friend Lady Hayman did when they were in the other place, in relation to the 1976 legislation.
I want to make it clear that the sentiments mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, and my noble friend Lady Mallalieu have been very much at the forefront of the Government's thinking. We have come to the decision that the balance is properly struck by strengthening the code as I have just indicated. I invite noble Lords not to press their amendments.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, at the outset of the debate on Report, I drew attention to the gap between 1976 and 1988, 12 years during which the defendant enjoyed anonymity. I said in terms that there had been no evidence of that giving rise to injustice or causing any problem at all. That was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Corbett, for whose speech I am much indebted. Where is the problem? We have had a situation where the defendant enjoyed anonymity. What is the anxiety about putting that back? I will tell noble Lords what the anxiety is. It is the fear of criticism by the press.
In a speech which I and all other High Court judges had to make once a year at the University of Birmingham, I said in terms that the greatest problem facing any democracy is how to achieve a responsible
This Government, like any other, refuse to face up to the need for legislation on privacy and they have left it entirely to self-regulation. One of my critics was the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. She said that one would lose the willingness of people to come forward, but she also said this about the press:
Returning to other matters that have been raised, perhaps I may deal first with the law on rape as it is now. An obligation on the judge to give the jury a warning about the absence of corroboration has been removed. I suppose that that was because pressure groups said that it was rude to suggest that women make up false allegations.
I have had the pleasure of listening, in Privy Council in particular, to the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, but I have never had the pleasure of leading him. I am grateful to him for being an efficient junior by pointing out the fact that there are frequently cases that are made up. Your Lordships may recall that they are made up not only maliciously, but also by an illusion. That was firmly demonstrated in that fine drama, A Passage To India. A wretched Indian was put into prison, but while he was being tried, the situation suddenly became clear to the complainant. The penalty deficiency can easily be put right as has been properly pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, during the course of his observations.
That completes the points I want to raise because it deals with the various criticisms which have been made. I do not believe that the timid reliance on self-regulation, in order to ensure that you do not fall out with the press, is any argument at all. It is the Government's function primarily to stand up to the press. Until they do so, we shall continually have an irresponsible press.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
1CInsert the following new Clause "Anonymity of suspects and defendants in certain cases (No. 2)
(1) Subject to subsection (3), where an allegation has been made that a person has committed an offence listed in Schedule 3, no matter relating to that person shall be included in any publication if it is likely to lead members of the public to identify that person as the person who is alleged to have committed the offence, until and unless that person is charged.
(2) If any matter is published or included in a relevant programme in contravention of subsection (1), the following persons, namely
(a) in the case of a publication in a newspaper or periodical, any proprietor, any editor and any publisher of the newspaper or periodical;
(b) in the case of any other publication, the person who publishes it; and
(c) in the case of a matter included in a relevant programme, any body corporate which is engaged in providing the service in which the programme is included and any person having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of an editor of a newspaper; shall be guilty of an offence.