Justice Minister Jane Poole-Wilson insists anonymity provisions in the new Sex Offences legislation don’t cast doubt on the credibility of victims.

The Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Act came into effect on Monday this week.

It aims to provide better protection for victims by increasing maximum sentences in a number of areas and creating new offences such as revenge porn, voyeurism and ‘upskirting’.

But it also contains provisions that give anonymity to defendants in sex cases unless and until they are convicted.

The UK introduced a similar provision in 1988 but repealed it only 12 years later.

One reason given for not changing the law back again in 2003 was, as Home Office Minister Lord Falconer, told the House of Lords, it would ‘give the impression that there exists a presumption of doubt about the credibility of the complainant in sex offence cases.’

But Mrs Poole-Wilson said: ‘The anonymity provisions were debated in both the Keys and Legislative Council at some length.

‘The matters under debate were the principles of open justice and the importance of being able to encourage relevant witnesses to come forward and the impact as a defendant of being named ahead of conviction when living in a small community and with the associated stigma and recognition of the ongoing effect on online coverage.

‘It was not about casting doubt on or undermining the credibility of victims or witnesses.

‘There continues to be a lot of work to ensure the victim is at the centre of the criminal justice process.’

There are grounds on which an application can be made to name the defendant.

Section 144 sets out that the police or prosecution can apply to have anonymity lifted, and this could happen if the judge is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so.