Tory MP Nigel Evans: ‘Rape suspects need anonymity’

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Conservative MP Nigel Evans says it’s time rape suspects were granted anonymity and has expressed sadness over the arrest of Oxford Union President Ben Sullivan.

Mr Sullivan, 21, a history and politics student at Christ Church College, was arrested last week on suspicion of rape and attempted rape. He has been released on bail.

Mr Evans, MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, was last month fully cleared of multiple charges of indecent and sexual assault and one charge of rape.

The gay MP resigned as deputy speaker in September last year after being charged.

Mr Evans is calling for anonymity for rape suspects until they are charged or even convicted to prevent lives from being “wrecked”.

However, critics say such a move would prevent more victims from coming forward.

Writing in The Spectator, the MP said his “heart sank” when he read the newspaper headline: “Oxford Union president, 21, arrested on suspicion of rape and attempted rape.”

Mr Evans wrote: “A photo of the beaming Oxford Union president, Ben Sullivan, dominated the front page in his swanky dinner jacket. He looked as if he had the world before him — until, that is, the police knocked on his door, warrant in hand. ‘Are you Ben Sullivan?’ they would have asked. The long, lonely journey to the police station would have followed, leading him in the opposite direction to his ambitions.

“I should know. A similar journey took me from my home to Preston police station in the early hours of 4 May last year. I could guess exactly what Ben was feeling. He was released without charge on police bail — but even if this goes no further, his name is now indelibly linked to rape.

“Anyone who searched online for him will find these lurid accusations immediately — but struggle to find out that he was released without charge.”