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Anonymity for the falsely accused

By Bettina Arndt - posted Tuesday, 6 September 2022

"No man should have to go what I went through," said the teary John Jarratt, after a jury took 15 minutes to decide he was not guilty of an alleged rape forty years earlier. He'd been through twenty months of what he called "media death row," with the world-wide press coverage traumatic for his entire family.

The accusation came from a former flatmate - Jarratt admitted he had sex with the woman, but said it was consensual. She said she'd been inspired by #MeToo and took action when the well-known Australian actor was at the peak of his career, starring in Wolf Creek II. So many of the facts of the case didn't stack up but even after the jury tossed it out Jarratt successfully sued The Telegraph for reporting he had "got away with rape". It will always be part of his history.

Meanwhile "the woman who perpetrated the evil lie against me walked away scot-free," said Jarratt, calling for laws to be changed so that neither party is identified unless someone is convicted.


Last week I spoke to Daniel Janner, QC, a UK barrister who has set up an organisation called FAIR, (Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform), pushing for legislation to give anonymity to those accused of sexual offenses.

Daniel's father, Lord Janner of Braunstone, was twice the target of false sexual abuse allegations resulting in a well-publicised police raid on his home and parliamentary offices. None of the accusations against him were tested in court before his death in 2015. Daniel is clear that the motivation for the allegations was possible lucrative victims' compensation claims.

Daniel's group was launched in 2019, with a demonstration outside parliament led by Sir Cliff Richards, who had faced his own nightmare through being accused of historic sexual abuse. Sir Cliff described his four-year ordeal which turned him into a "zombie," stopping him sleeping for years: "I don't think I will ever get over it."

FAIR's first petition attracted over 27,000 signatures but that initial momentum was derailed for two years by Covid lockdowns. Now the group is actively pushing for an amendment to the next criminal justice bill to make it an offence to identify or publish information about someone accused of a sexual offence unless they have been charged. An exception would be made in special circumstances like a historic institutional rape case where there's abundant evidence of wrong-doing and a high likelihood of other victims.

At one time teachers and other professionals had legal protection from being named prior to conviction but then the UK system was captured by the feminists and became victim-centred, with accusers being given anonymity and the accused allowed to be publicly named. Every time there's an attempt at reform, the feminists claim alleged perpetrators must be named because publicity is essential to encourage other "victims" to come forward to ensure prosecution.

This argument may hold up in some historic institutional rape cases but it is absolute nonsense in the majority of sexual assault cases. For a start a lot of the perpetrators are kids – in Australia the largest group of sexual assault perpetrators are aged between 15-19. Most of these are date rape or hook-up cases involving young people struggling with the issues of consent.


It's nonsense to suggest there's always a bunch of other victims who could come forward. Yet the sisterhood controlling our justice system gets away with this monstrous lie, ensuring even students can be named and shamed. The argument that victims deserve special protection due to the unique opprobrium associated with sexual crimes also applies to the falsely accused. Yet that obvious fact is totally ignored.

Please watch and circulate my video. It's important this issue receives public attention.


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About the Author

Bettina Arndt is a social commentator.

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