GCU Law students campaign for complainer anonymity as part of University module

Fri, 03 Dec 2021 16:19:00 GMT
(Pictured left to right) LLB Law students Annabel Mackay & Charlotte Richmond
(Pictured left to right) LLB Law students Annabel Mackay & Charlotte Richmond

GCU students have been working on a campaign aimed at reforming laws around complainer anonymity in sexual offence cases as part of a course module. 

 Fourth year LLB Law students Annabel Mackay and Charlotte Richmond are amongst the students who began working on the campaign as part of their Professional Links module, which involved undertaking research on anonymity in sexual offence cases and how it is protected in different countries. 

 The objective of the campaign is to change the law to ensure that complainers in Scotland have the automatic right to anonymity in sexual offence cases, which is not currently the case. 

 Annabel is hopeful that the work they have done will help raise awareness of the need for reform. She said: “Many assume that complainers in Scottish sexual offence cases have an automatic right to anonymity, but this is not correct.  

 In Scotland, currently no legislation provides complainers with automatic anonymity, unlike in England and Wales. Currently, for those in Scotland, the only legal tool Scottish courts have available to protect a complainer’s anonymity is an order made under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. We hope to change this.” 

 She added: “I became involved with the campaign for complainer anonymity as part of the Professional Links module in my third year of the LLB, however, I have chosen to continue on with the campaign even after that module finished as I believe it is a really beneficial and important campaign” 

 Charlotte decided to focus her research area on how the right to anonymity is being implemented in different countries, focusing specifically on the Republic of Ireland. She said: “The work I carried out on the campaign so far has involved a lot of research. As part of this research, we first looked in detail at what the law in Scotland is just now and what this means for complainers. 

We looked at different jurisdictions which provide a right of anonymity to complainers in sexual offence cases to see how this worked in practice. The aim of this research was to see how this right was implemented in other countries and to get an idea of how the right could be introduced in Scotland.”

As part of their research, students also had the opportunity to share their work on the dedicated campaign website their work published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal for the Law Society of Scotland and the September 2021 edition of Legal Women UK.  

Annabel strongly believes in the importance of the campaign, and hopes that the work that they have done will make a difference. She said: “Complainer anonymity allows victims to report with confidence that their anonymity will be protected in law. However, the law concerning sexual offence complainers right to anonymity, in Scotland, is very unclear and needs to be reformed.

The campaign is important as this issue is one which could be easily resolved and in doing so would have a significant effect on so many people’s lives.” 


By Rachael McAlonan 

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