Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Names have been changed to protect somebody, though precisely whom is open to debate

This is a tough one. I mean, yes, accused people and their lawyers need to have some way to challenge the character of witnesses, but there is a long tradition in Britain - as elsewhere - of intimidation of witnesses and of their families. It's hard to know what the best answer would be. One could allow witnesses to testify without anonymity and then give them new identities afterwards, but not everyone would be happy to lose all contact with their previous life: I know I wouldn't. Plus, you'd need to give similar protection to all their family and close friends. Perhaps there is a place for some independent means of vetting anonymous witnesses. Some tough decision-making ahead, and I hope the government at least try to get it right rather than simply rushing through reactive legislation which makes life easy for the prosecution and keep the Daily Mail happy.

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