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Darren Hughes’ accuser: will he be named?

By Steven | June 9, 2011

Now that the police have decided not to press  charges against Darren Hughes, the obvious next question is whether his accuser can be named.

For now, the answer is no. There is still an injunction in place. Someone will have to apply to court to have it lifted.

Will the judge be sympathetic? I suspect so. He says in his injunction order, “If… the Police decide not to pursue the charges… that circumstance would certainly warrant reconsideration of the basis for the present order.”

That order was in large part based on the fact that the accuser would get automatic name suppression as a sex crime complainant if charges were laid. If he was named before any such charges were laid, that protection would effectively be lost. Of course, it’s now clear that no charges will be laid.

It also seems that the accuser himself only argued for protection for the pre-charge period:

The essential thrust of his claim is that the present circumstances of his complaint to the Police and, in the period until the Police decide whether to lay charges in relation to his complaint, the fact that he has made such a complaint, the fact that he has made such a complaint is a matter of private information with a reasonable expectation of respect for that privacy. [Bold added]

Finally, the judge found that the important thing for the public to know was the fact of the complaint, not the identity of the complainant. Things may have changed now. There may now be public interest in knowing more about the circumstances, including the identity of the complainant, in order to evaluate whether Hughes can appropriately return to the political stage, and perhaps to enable Hughes to tell his story if he wishes to.

On the other hand, there is still a general interest in protecting the identities of people who allege, in good faith, that they have been sex crime victims. I haven’t seen any suggestion from the police that the complaint was not made in good faith.

On balance, I’d expect the injunction to be discharged if someone makes the application.

Topics: General | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Darren Hughes’ accuser: will he be named?”

  1. ursula cheer Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Steven

    This is very interesting. I tend to agree. But suppose this is a very vulnerable young man who might be broken by the media attention. It might appear there are good grounds to continue the injunction. But not, I suggest on the basis of our existing tort of invasion of privacy. This would appear to be an extension of the law into intrusion and protection from harassment territory – a new branch of the tort on any view.

    Ursula

  2. ross Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Ursula,

    Your focus is on the accuser and say he might be “broken by the media attention”. What if Hughes has been broken by the media attention? Would you be concerned? He has already been stigmatised and of course has lost his career and income. That’s a high price to pay when the allegations could be false. Indeed according to Hughes they are false. There seems to be no good reason in a case like this to give an accuser name suppression when it is unclear if the allegations are reliable.

    You say that there might be good grounds to continue the injunction. What if the accuser’s allegations were implausible or full of holes, what if he has made previous false allegations, would that be sufficient grounds to remove the injunction, notwithstanding that he might be broken by the media attention?

  3. Merv Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    “You say that there might be good grounds to continue the injunction. What if the accuser’s allegations were implausible or full of holes, what if he has made previous false allegations, …”

    You’re just clutching at straws, mate.

  4. ross Says:
    June 24th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Merv,

    It sounds as if you were there on the night in question. Please explain what happened.

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