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Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008

Commentary on Sections

Section 2:  Witness anonymity orders

25.Subsection (1) sets out the effect of a witness anonymity order. Breach of the order by the unauthorised disclosure of a witness’s identity will fall to be dealt with as contempt of court (but see section 8(4) and (5) in respect of service courts). Subsection (1) defines the order in such a way as to grant the court a wide discretion as to how the court protects the anonymity of a witness in any particular case. For example, in some cases the court might consider that it is only necessary to screen the witness from the defendant and public; in others it might think it necessary to apply a whole range of measures.

26.Subsection (2) lists the kinds of measures the court may use to secure the witness’s anonymity. The list is only illustrative; the court may employ other measures if it thinks fit. Technological developments and the practical arrangements in the courthouse may affect such decisions.

27.Subsection (4) makes it clear that the court may not make a witness anonymity order which prevents the judge, magistrates or jury either from seeing the witness or from hearing the witness’s natural voice. The judge, magistrates and jury should always be able to see and hear the witness.

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