Why Don't Sexual Offence Complainers Have a Right to Anonymity in Scotland
24th March 2021
It is often assumed that complainants in sexual offence cases have an “automatic” and “lifelong” right to anonymity across the UK, and that the law prohibits their identification in mainstream and on social media.
While this is true in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – in Scotland alone, it is not the case. While newspapers and broadcasters generally do not identify them, complainers in sexual offence cases in this jurisdiction have no right to anonymity, and reporting restrictions are put in place in a vanishingly small number of cases. As a consequence, the anonymity of sexual offence complainers in Scotland is uniquely precarious.
Presenting the findings of ongoing comparative law research, as part of GCU Law’s Campaign for Complainer Anonymity, this session explores the how other jurisdictions around the world have recognised complainer anonymity, situating the Scottish rules (and the lack of them) in their international context.
Drawing on this comparative analysis – which includes Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, India, Bangladesh and Canada – this session considers alternative models for how a more robust right to complainer anonymity could be introduced to Scots law.