Criminal Law Week

Is a person arrested but not charged in relation to allegations of child sex abuse entitled to an anonymity order?

Sep 7, 2017

The following article is written for Police Professional by the editors of Criminal Law Week. Criminal Law Week is used by criminal justice professionals – including police officers, the CPS, judges and lawyers – to stay up to date with changes in criminal law. Published 46 times a year, each issue summarises important cases and legislation, keeping you on top of the latest developments regarding offences, police powers, the rules of procedure and evidence, and more. Incisive commentary is also provided by James Richardson Q.C., the editor of Archbold. Our online service gives you access to all Criminal Law Week issues, from 1997 to today. These are pulled together in a fully-searchable database, complemented by annotated key criminal legislation. For more information about Criminal Law Week, or to sign up for a free trial of our online service, please visit www.criminal-law.co.uk or call 01483 414 599. Is a person arrested but not charged in relation to allegations of child sex abuse entitled to an anonymity order? No, said the Supreme Court in Khuja v Times Newspapers Ltd and others (CLW/17/28/4). In March 2012, officers from Thames Valley Police arrested a number of men as part of ‘Operation Bullfinch’, an investigation into child sex grooming and child prostitution in the Oxford area. Those arrests led to the trial in early 2013 of nine men at the Old Bailey for rape and conspiracy to rape children, trafficking and child prostitution. The trial attracted considerable media interest. Evidence was given of the exploitation of six girls who at the relevant time were aged between 11 and 15. Seven of the men were convicted. The appellant, referred to as PNM, was a prominent figure in the Oxford area. He was arrested at about the same time as the other men and released on bail. The reason for his arrest was that one of the complainants told the police that she had been abused by a man with the same, very common, first name as PNM. She failed, however, to pick him out at an identity parade. Shortly after PNM’s arrest an order was made under section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 prohibiting the disclosure of any information that might identify him as the subject of pending criminal proceedings until such time as he was charged with an offence. At the trial, immediately before evidence was given by the complainant whose statements to the police had led to PNM’s arrest, PNM applied for a further order under section 4(2). At that time, he was still on bail. The trial judge agreed that it was inevitable that the complainant would refer to PNM in the course of her evidence. He made an order that prohibited the publication of any report that referred to evidence that might identify or tend to identify PNM until a charging decision was made. Following the trial, the police notified PNM that he would be released without charge, but that the case would remain under review. That remains the position, and there is no reason to believe that he will ever be charged. The press applied to the trial judge to lift the section 4(2) order on the basis that there were now no “pending or imminent” proceedings against PNM that could be prejudiced by publication. The judge circulated a draft ruling proposing to lift the order. Before he could do so, PNM applied to the High Court for an order restraining publication of any information liable to identify him as a person arrested, released on bail or released without charge in connection with offences against children, or as the subject of the section 4(2) orders made by the trial judge. PNM argued that such an order was necessary to protect him against the misuse of private information and the infringement of his right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The High Court judge refused to grant the order sought. That decision was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal. PNM appealed to the Supreme Court. During that time, the section 4(2) order remained in force. In a majority judgment give

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