East of England reassures blackmail victims as man jailed for 11 years


East of England Crown Prosecution Service has reassured blackmail victims it will do everything it can to protect their identity if they come forward.

Chris McCann, head of the CPS East of England Complex Casework Unit, said: "Blackmail is a despicable crime as it preys on people's fears of having made public what they want to keep secret. Paying a blackmailer is no guarantee the demands will stop - if anything the demands increase and the victim faces both the fear of exposure and keeping up the payments, as occurred in this case when £628,000 was paid.

"The only way to stop a blackmailer is to go to the police and I would like to reassure victims that if they do, we will do everything in our power to protect their identity from becoming public. It is not our role to do the blackmailer's job for them so that the victim is exposed through the court system."

Anthony Still was convicted today of blackmail after a four week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court and jailed for 11 years. He had denied blackmailing a businessman who paid him more than £600,000 to stop him revealing details of a secret affair. The businessman, known in court as Barnaby, decided he could no longer go on paying and went to police last year.

Mr McCann said: "In this case we sought and were granted a lifelong anonymity order; the victim was known in court by the pseudonym of "Barnaby" and gave evidence from behind screens so he could not be seen. This is something we would do for any blackmail victim and was not just for this case.

"Victim and witness care is at the heart of what we do and this case demonstrates that blackmail victims can come forward and see justice done without fearing their identities will be revealed."