Naming the accused is essential

First published in Our View by

The jailing of predatory paedophile John Briggs is another reminder that wicked and evil people who are prepared to use their position and power to corrupt and abuse young people do exist.

This was a man who would have been trusted by parents, who Bradford Crown Court heard was idolised by the five victims of his vile abuse because of his talents, his reputation and his success.

That these wicked acts have finally caught up with him is testament to the bravery of those very victims who came forward to give evidence against him, even though one of them had not been believed by police when he reported it 20 years ago.

It also shows why it remains vital that the press is free to fully report such cases from the outset, a right that has been questioned after recent high profile cases where celebrities have been cleared of allegations of sexual offences.

If the Telegraph & Argus had been unable to identify Briggs at an early stage, then it is possible two of the victims may never have come forward, as it was only on the back of that early publicity that they decided to go to the police.

There is no doubt that being named as a suspected sex offender is devastating for those accused of such crimes if they are not guilty – but the shadow is lifted from their lives once they are cleared.

Set that against the young lives that have been destroyed by those who have abused their power, responsibility and celebrity to shatter innocence with abuse – and the turmoil the victims must endure for the rest of their lives – and it is clear that if putting the names of those accused into the public domain helps such victims to come forward, it must be allowed to continue.

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