Reporting restriction on rape defendant’s name continues after acquittal

After a trial of six days, AA was acquitted of rape. AA was indicted in his birth names. AA’s counsel, Abigail Bright, had sought a reporting restriction of AA’s name before the start of the trial with effect for each day of the trial. That application was granted and a reporting restriction was made. Upon AA’s acquittal, his counsel applied for the reporting restriction on AA’s name to continue until further order. Legal argument was heard. It is rare, in practice, for the public interest not to be served by the press having freedom to publish (at a minimum) the fact of an acquittal and the name in which a defendant was indicted or otherwise known at a trial which was conducted with a jury sitting in open court.

AA’s counsel submitted on exactly how two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, articles 2 and 10, were engaged, and why AA’s case was a rare case in which article 2 was clearly engaged. The judge was persuaded that AA would be at risk of reprisals such that his life would be endangered in the event that the fact of his name and his acquittal of rape were to be published.

Practical arrangements were made for the press to have facility to address the Court, at any time in the future, to revisit this most rare example of a reporting restriction made until further order on the fact of a rape defendant’s name and acquittal. AA has a right to be notified of, and to participate in, any such argument and so to submit that the unlimited restriction on reporting of his name and acquittal should be in perpetuity.

The case is the only known instance of a reporting restriction on a defendant’s name continuing after acquittal of rape.