Q5.  Caroline Flint (Don Valley) (Lab): “The Coalition: our programme for government” states:
“We will extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants.”
May I ask the Prime Minister why he believes that defendants in rape cases are more deserving of anonymity than those accused of murder, domestic violence or sexual abuse of children?
The Prime Minister: I know that the right hon. Lady cares very deeply about this issue—the key issue of getting the conviction rate for rapists up—as do I. I know that she gave a good speech on the subject in an Adjournment debate. What I would say is that none of us should ignore the fact that somehow there is a problem with this. We know that a lot of people are falsely accused, whose careers and lives can be blighted—[Interruption.] Opposition Members shake their heads, but in some cases people have committed suicide. One of the proofs is that when the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), now leader of the Labour party, was in office, she commissioned a report into this issue by Baroness Stern, which found that 8 to 10% of reported rape cases could result in false allegations. Baroness Stern, who looked into the issue, said that defendant anonymity was often raised and that a
“full examination of the issues would be helpful to the debate”.
What we are promising is to bring proposals forward so that they can be debated. Let us not ignore the fact that there is a problem, because there is one, and let us see if we can work together to find the right outcome.