Matthew Steeples suggests that it is time for the courts and press to consider anonymity in reporting sensitive cases more carefully
In London last week, many titles published reports about the inquest into the suicide of Eleanor de Freitas. This 23-year old killed herself after facing a £200,000 private prosecution brought against by her by a 35-year old Chelsea financier named Alexander Economou and a trial for perverting the course of justice after she allegedly lied about being allegedly raped by him in 2013. Simply in having their story so widely shared, both de Feitas and Economou have both had their names dragged through the dirt but on a more worrying level, this weekend, a Bahraini prince named His Highness Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (لامير ناصر بن حمد آل خليفة) has been subjected to a torrent of negative press coverage after human rights activists demanded his arrest despite allegations against him dismissed by the police “on the basis of the insufficiency of the evidence against him”.
The cases of 27-year old, Sandhurst educated Prince Nasser – whose arrival in Britain was highlighted after he shared a video of himself running in Hyde Park on his Instagram page – and Economou share common ground in that they both relate to unproven and untested allegations. Neither has been charged with any crime and, on that basis, both men remain innocent in the eyes of the law.
Here are two examples of why anonymity for the accused in certain instances is as important as it is for victims. Both Prince Nasser and Alexander Economou’s names will now forever be associated with these stories and be they are innocent or guilty, mud tends to stick. It is time to review the way in which the naming of individuals involved in such cases is handled.
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