Suella Braverman to consider giving anonymity to suspected criminals

Home Secretary Suella Braverman(Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman(Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Suspected criminals could be given legal anonymity until charged under plans being considered by ministers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said current rules can lead to a “media circus” and jeopardise a fair trial.

Ms Braverman told an audience of Young Conservatives at the party conference in Birmingham that “trial by media will only undermine our justice system”.

She said: “We have had some high-profile instances where the media circus around a suspect who has not been charged has been devastating.”

She made the comments in response to a question referring to the cases of Cliff Richard and Harvey Proctor, who were falsely accused and never charged.

Ms Braverman added: “I think coverage of people prior to charge can be very, very damaging, particularly if the charges are not pursued or if they are dropped later on.”

Media groups oppose blanket anonymity on the grounds that it infringes open justice. Naming a suspect can also lead to other victims, or witnesses, contacting police.

Shadow Home Office Minister Jess Phillips said on Monday night: “There are already measures in place to prevent irresponsible reporting.

"Victims’ charities are strongly against blanket restrictions as it can make it harder to get other victims to come forward in cases where there are serial offenders and harder to get justice as a result.”

Ms Braverman has also indicated she wants to cut the number of foreign students coming to Britain, in a move likely to set her on a collision course with universities.

The Home Secretary questioned why large numbers of overseas nationals are being handed visas to embark on courses that are “not always very good quality”.

Latest figures show that sponsored study visas - which allow students to come here for a number of years - soared to nearly 467,000 in the 12 months to March, up 58 per cent on the number seen in the year before the pandemic.

“We’ve had a massive increase in students coming to this country,” she told a conference fringe meeting.

“We should be looking at some of the courses that people are doing. They are not always very good quality. Taking a smarter look at student visas is consistent with our agenda for growth.”