New Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says rape suspects should stay anonymous  

Number 10 were at loggerheads with the new justice secretary last night over protecting the identity of suspected sex offenders.

Robert Buckland, QC, claimed people arrested on suspicion of rape should remain anonymous until charged - if they have reputations to protect.

He said there was 'merit' in extending anonymity for suspects of all serious crimes, The Times reported.

But last night a Number 10 source shut down his controversial suggestion, claiming: 'This is not government policy'.

Robert Buckland, QC (pictured above) claimed people arrested on suspicion of rape should remain anonymous until charged

Robert Buckland, QC (pictured above) claimed people arrested on suspicion of rape should remain anonymous until charged

The former prisons minister, who took over from David Gauke last week, supports Sir Cliff Richard and Paul Gambaccini's campaign to protect the identity of sexual offence until charged.

Although guidance for the police and Crown Prosecution Service says the names of suspects should not be published until charge without justification - they can still be identified by other means.

It has been argued that naming suspects ahead of charge can be crucial to gathering evidence.

But Mr Buckland, 50, said judges should be able to issue an order that suspects cannot be identified.

Earlier this year Cliff Richard launched a campaign to ban the naming of sexual crime suspects unless they are charged

Earlier this year Cliff Richard launched a campaign to ban the naming of sexual crime suspects unless they are charged

The former criminal law barrister said he believes the case to protect the identity of people with damaged reputations is weaker.

'Let's say you are a reputable local businessperson who is accused of fraud. Your good name is going to be really undermined by this mere accusation. You are a person of good character. That might be a meritorious case for anonymity,' he said.

Paul Gambaccini (pictured above) is also part of the campaign

Paul Gambaccini (pictured above) is also part of the campaign 

He told The Times: 'Let's say you are a person with a list of previous convictions. You've committed offences. There is intelligence out there that suggests that other victims might come forward. Is that a case where anonymity should be automatic?'

Victims commissioner Dame Vera Baird said:

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