Northern Ireland: Research on the impact of the lack of anonymity for men charged with sexual assault

A PhD Researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, Chloe Hanna, is doing research on anonymity, though focussing only on people in Northern Ireland and only on those who have been acquitted. Her email is included below.  

Her study is entitled: ‘He Who Shall Not be Named? Rethinking Northern Ireland’s Approach to Defendant Anonymity in Rape Trials.’ The project explores the legal landscape on defendant anonymity in Northern Ireland within the context of the recent 2019 Gillen Review into the law and procedures in serious sexual offences. The Review had recommended that no anonymity for defendants should be introduced post-charge in Northern Ireland. On completion, the thesis will mark a significant contribution to the research on defendant anonymity and the broader public discussion around allegations of sexual offences. This doctoral research aims to draw upon the experiences of those who have been accused and acquitted of serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland. It is hoped this research will identify the effects of an allegation on individuals and those around them, including how those accused of sexual offences are uniquely stigmatised.

This will then inform a discussion around introducing anonymity for defendants in sexual offence cases until the point of conviction, meaning the names of those accused would not be made public unless they plead guilty or are found guilty at trial. Chloe is interested in hearing from people who have experienced an accusation of a sexual offence. She is seeking individuals who have faced an accusation in Northern Ireland but have been acquitted (found not guilty) at trial. It is hoped these individuals can expand upon the impact of being named whilst their trial is ongoing and any continued consequences post-acquittal. This experience can be shared via an interview which can be conducted in-person, online or via telephone later this year. If you have an experience that you would be willing to share as part of this research project, please email (or write to Chloe Hanna, Queen’s University Belfast School of Law, Main Site Tower, BT7 1PA).

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