THE BLOG

Should Celebrities Facing Sex Offence Trials Be Granted Anonymity Until They Have Been Tried?

14/02/2014 14:50 GMT | Updated 16/04/2014 10:59 BST

The question so many media pundits are asking right now is, has there been a celebrity witch-hunt with cases like Dave Lee Travis and Bill Roache?

The police are in a difficult position and it is my experience they are reluctant to charge people unless they have a weight of evidence they feel needs putting before a court.

That said, it cannot be right to try these people through the press and on social networks as has become the case.

I am not saying celebrities are a special case, but their profile means the humiliation they receive is disproportionate to what might happen to an ordinary member of the public caught up in a similar situation.

Is it wrong that the police are announcing high profile names in the hope that other so-called victims come forward?

Frankly, I am torn. Every victim of a sexual assault deserves justice, but when they have not protested previously and many of these alleged offences took place over 20 years ago, it inevitably leads to questions about what the motives are.

The courts found Bill Roache not guilty and yet one of his victims is still going to mount a civil case against him. The actor has been humiliated, had his reputation shredded and had his family humbled, is suing for money and compensation the right path here?

At least if the court has reached its verdicts in the proper way, they should be backed totally.

Would it not be right and proper for the police to investigate these matters without a fanfare? If they find evidence then prosecute, but it seems increasingly unlikely that jurors will believe one person's word against another's in these cases.

Leaking details that a celebrity is being investigated and simply giving out their sex and age is not helpful either because totally innocent men and women get singled out as a rowdy mob circle on them through social networking. Innuendo, false rumours and spiteful untruths are then left on the internet for others to read, some idiots believe those passages to be fact.

There is in my view an increasing argument to allow the accused to remain anonymous just like their accusers, at least until after they have been found guilty or cleared of wrongdoing. There is also an increasing case that says the internet must be policed and offenders who are deliberate spreading lies brought to book.

Bill Roache is going back into Coronation Street, on which he has played Ken Barlow since the soap opera began in 1960. He is considered a legend of the small screen in the UK, and it would be hard to think of an actor anywhere in the world who has been in the same show for as long as Bill.

But does the fact that he has spent more than a year in the public eye being accused - and acquitted - of molesting young women, now mean he will never be considered "one of Britain's best-loved soap stars" again. If not, is that fair?

Not if, as we know the courts have decided, he is an innocent man.