Peter Rhodes on a slippery slope, a fine orator and the case for open justice

Watch out. Slippery slope ahead. Home Secretary Suella Braverman says she supports moves to grant criminal suspects anonymity until they are charged by police.

What next, Suella?
What next, Suella?

And who can argue with that? It's entirely reasonable to protect a man or woman's good name after they are arrested and until they are formally charged. As a rule, that's how the media already operate. But as soon as Ms Braverman spoke out, the chatter online veered towards granting blanket anonymity even after someone is charged and, in some cases, until they are proven guilty in court.

This is dangerous. Knowing the identity of the defendant is vital, not only for alerting victims of his other unknown offences but for bringing forward witnesses who may hold an alibi to prove his innocence. Justice works best in the light of day. The more secretive it becomes, the worse it gets.

Full marks, however, for Braverman's speech to the Tory Conference. She was natural, amiable, amusing and perfectly capable of dealing with that incident of premature standing ovation before she had finished. She also has a steely will. There is, of course, much more to being a politician than making good speeches. But how many Tories came away from Conference fearing they have appointed the wrong woman as leader?

I may have created the impression a few days ago that a press card is a universal pass to any event. Not so. They are so useful that when my last card expired, I didn't renew it and when it was stolen I didn't bother replacing it. Some press cards claim to be recognised by the police but, in my limited experience, no card ever issued can sway a stroppy cop who doesn't like the look of you. Move along, sir . . .

I recall a day in Whitehall many years ago when, equipped with nothing more than a dark suit, brief case and a long-expired press card, I was ushered to an MP's office. And when I interviewed the late Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace, I was entirely card-less and the security team had me listed under a wrong name, yet still let me in. Strange but true.

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