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Call for sex suspects anonymity

People suspected of sexual offences should not be named until they are charged, according to one of the UK's leading prosecutors.

Nazir Afzal, who later this week leaves his job as chief prosecutor in the North West of England, says it is not right for names to become known until a decision to charge is made.

Mr Afzal, who has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases getting to court, including several high-profile cases involving sex offenders, told BBC North West Tonight: "My view is that people should remain anonymous until the decision to charge is taken.

"It's not right for the names to get out there until the decision to charge is made. Then I think it's appropriate for their names to be publicly announced because the public need to know who's on trial.

"I think there's something to be said though in the Stuart Hall case, for example, the fact that he'd been arrested meant a number of people came forward who perhaps would not have done so if they weren't aware that Stuart Hall was under investigation. So it's a balancing exercise. I come down on the side of wait until they're charged before you name them."

Mr Afzal has been the North West's chief prosecutor since 2011, and has become one of the most high-profile legal figures in the country.

He has ruled out a move into politics but will continue in his role as a legal adviser to the BBC soap EastEnders.

He was approached by the programme's producers in the late 1990s and has consulted on key storylines including the recent "who killed Lucy Beale" plot.

He said: "I've dealt with everything you've seen and everything you will see in the months to come. I've got Dot Cotton's trial coming up shortly, which I've already advised on. I can't tell you anything about that."


From Belfast Telegraph