Newspapers - are they allowed to do that?!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by needmorevodka, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. needmorevodka

    needmorevodka Member

    Yesterday I found out that a man I know (he plays in a bluegrass band with my brother) is being charged with several sex offences against one boy. The allegations date back years. He's a Boy's Club leader and therefore, I should imagine, rather vulnerable to this kind of thing.

    The thing is, the local newspaper has printed his name, age, and address except the actual house number, and he hasn't even been convicted yet. As far as I can tell he's still only under investigation at this stage.

    Is this right? Are the press allowed to disclose all these details?

    It seems to me that convicted offenders are afforded all sorts of protection, yet those who may in fact be innocent can be thrown to the lions! I'm worried about him, it doesn't take much to stir up the public.

    Does anybody know the position on this sort of thing? Here is the article:

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. michellegarbutt

    michellegarbutt Supporting Member

    Unfortunately they can print his details. The same thing happened a few years ago in this area. A band conductor was accused of interfering with a young boy during a lesson and he was named in the press. He was later cleared but the damage was done as far as his reputation was concerned. Any man accused of rape is also in the same situation. His details can be revealed in the press while the 'victim' gets annonimity. I feel in cases like this both the 'victim' and the 'accused' should be annonymous until proven either way. However with someone working with children how do you ensure no more children are 'harmed' until the case is proven either way
  3. needmorevodka

    needmorevodka Member

    Thanks for your response Michelle. I can see your point regarding the above bit. I guess it's a tricky situation and I haven't a clue what a better way might be. Mud does tend to stick though and lives can be ruined. I can't help feeling it's a bit unfair :-?
  4. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    I always think the press are too quick with this kind of info, even in cases where the accused turns out to be guilty, there should still be a period of forced anonimity by the courts to protect reputations until a verdict is reached.
    If this guy is innocent his life's already ruined. It would be quite easy stopping him doing his work with kids until after the case is closed (just in case) without naming and shaming him to the general public.
  5. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty. There have been a number of high profile "celebs" in recent years who have been falsley accused and had their reputations damaged, but in some ways those are easier because the press would report the verdict as much as the accusation. In smaller cases, with less well known people, the press are more likely to make a big deal out of the accusation and not say too much if they get it wrong, that image forever hanging the person accused.

    Rape or child abuse is sickening, which is all the more reason to make sure someone is truely guilty before their reputation is damaged. Even when your name is not in newspapers or the press, it can still affect you a serious amount if you have been accused and you know you're not guilty, I hate to think how much it must mess you up if it is then made into a major news article.

    All the more reason for making sure all our training band organisers and conductors/teachers working with children take child protection seriously.

    see here
  6. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    If my next door neighbour or one of my children's teachers or club leaders had been accused by police of sexual assault, then guilty or not, I would like to be forewarned to protect my children.
    I know that would be terribly unfair if the person was found to be innocent, but childrens well being should always come first.
    Perhaps the solution to this is if the person is found not guilty then the false accuser should be villified in the press and receive a sentence comparable to the sentance the defendant would have got had he been found guilty.
    Too many times women have maliciously accused someone of rape and then just received a caution for wasting police time. If they faced a five year sentence for trying to pervert the course of justice or something similar, then we might have less false accusations.
    I think if the public learn the accusation is false they only have sympathy for the accused e.g. Mathew Kelly.
  7. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Your first few sentences there concern me Big Horn. The person IS innocent until proven guilty.
  8. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    If its a teacher they are suspended. As they are then not in contact with the pupils anymore, there is no reason for the parents to be told until the case has been proven. They almost certainly lose their jobs even if they are innocent, because heads would rather get rid of a teacher than risk losing pupils because of parents saying 'no smoke without fire'.

    Newspapers should be forced to give exactly the same amount of column inches to stating that the person has been cleared after the case as they do to whipping up people to go round and break their windows beforehand.
  9. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    I know of somebody who is actually awaiting trial for offences he allegedly committed the best part of 30 years ago.

    His name and address has been in the papers on may occasions.

    One half of me says that these details should be published to protect others. However it can also lead to vigilantism.

    As BigHorn states what happens when the accuser turns out to be crying wolf. Even though somebody is innocent their name is now tarnished for good and the accuser gets away with nothing. They too should be punished and vilified in the press.

    Unfortunately we live in an era of when people are arrested and charged with such offences they are automatically guilty in they eyes of a large section of the public.
  10. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Something that surprised me about the press, a couple of years ago, someone that I considered to be a friend was arrested and prosecuted for "Downloading a "horrifying" collection of child pornography."

    He was initially arrested in July 2004 and his computers were siezed:

    It wasn't until 15 months later in October 2005 that he was sentenced (18 months in Jail.) and during that time, none of us knew anything about it, and he was still a free man, although according to the news report published after his sentencing, he had sought counselling to understand his behaviour.

    How did the press not get hold of this and report it? There was a person being charged for (and had admitted!) these offences, yet he was still living a free man. If I had children, I certainly would have wanted to know about it!
  11. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    While I understand your feelings, the fundamental basis of law in this country is “innocent until proven guilty" - if that were to change then this is not a country I would want to live in.

    Damage to reputations is bad enough, but it could lead to much, much worse. Anyone remember the pedophile vigilante mobs (or peedofile as they often spelt it...:rolleyes: ) running around estates demanding that people were evicted on the basis of a newspaper report? Could you imagine what would've happen if one of those mobs got hold of one of their targets and did them serious harm (or worse) when in fact, due to some shoddy journalism or a coincidence with names, they were innocent?


    ...on the face of it this sounds like a good idea. But these crimes are very often hard to prove, and difficult enough for the victims to report, even without the threat of police action should they be not proven. And let's not forget that not all wrongly accused people are victims of malicious accusations. It really is a difficult area for the law authorities to deal with. Maybe they should be seen to be taking harder action against the obvious hoax accusations, but it's a fact of life that there will always be someone around who will want to drag the reputation of someone (not necessarily famous) down. At least the people in the media spotlight have a way to clear their names, how you would begin to do that "in the real world" if you were falsely accused, I cannot begin to imagine.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2007
  12. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    No - the person is PRESUMED innocent until proven guilty. He might well be guilty which is why I would want to know so I could keep my children safe.
    All convicted peadophiles were guilty of their crimes before they were tried for them and found guilty.
  13. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    OK, so I got the wording wrong here but that's nothing compared to what I feel you have wrong, because you are suggesting they are presumed guilty until proven innocent.
  14. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Not at all. If it was my next door neighbour accused and vigilantes came around. I would be on his door step defending him, whether I personally thought him guilty or not.

    I just feel my duty as a father means that I should protect my children from any threat. Any information that enables me to do that should be available to me.
    If I know then I can decide if I will give him the benefit of the doubt or not. It is only with this info that I can presume anything.
  15. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Wow thats one hell of a statement! The moment you read that somebody has been accused of offences against children you know they are guilty? Now I am not defending anyone here, but can you be 100% certain that every convicted paedophile was guilty.

    What you are saying is a court has never wrongly convicted a paedophile or any other person for that matter?
  16. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    What? Rather than protect your kids from him?
  17. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    You are putting words in my mouth here - at no point have I ever said anyone accused is or should be presumed guilty. I am saying that a legal presumption of innocence in no way alters what did or did not occur.

    I cannot make any presumption of guilt or innocence without knowing what was alledged to have happened. Without that knowledge I cannot protect my children as ewll as I could armed with it.

    And of cause I know miscarriages of justice happen - you should read my posts in the context they were written - not extract a sentence and assume I am saying something I am clearly not.
  18. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    OK Big Horn - I guess I interpreted your initial post incorrectly and I stand corrected. Sorry.
  19. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    You state that they were guilty before they were convicted. My point is that they may not have been. Perhaps I should have phrased my response better.
  20. aimee_euph

    aimee_euph Member

    The press only receive this kind of information - particularly in the local papers - through press relaeases from the police, or information given to them by the police.

    If the police didn't release the info. then the papers wouldn't print it.

    Also it's not 'news' if there is no name..."local teacher arrested for child pron" or whatever, then it would go on to say "an unnamed teacher" blah blah blah, parents would be dragging kids out of schools left right and centre.