It sounds like a tabloid editor’s dream front page: one of Australia’s best known, and most loved, entertainers is arrested by Scotland Yard detectives on suspicion of sexual offences. Although police officers have not identified him, all the major media outlets in the UK and Australia know who he is. So does anyone who’s active on Twitter — or anyone who googles his name.

On Thursday, Tom Savage, deputy news editor of UK tabloid the Daily Star Sunday, tweeted the man’s name. His identity had been confirmed, he added, by two sources close to Operation Yewtree, which was formed in the aftermath of the BBC Jimmy Savile scandal. Controversial broadcaster Derryn Hinch has also named him on Twitter.

Yet no mainstream media outlets have named the man — anywhere in the world. In the Australian press, he has simply been identified as an 82-year-old “entertainer” or “showbiz star”.

“It’s a very good question,” one News Limited editor told Crikey this morning when asked why the man has not been identified. “We name Rebekah Brooks every time she gets arrested. I don’t know why we aren’t naming him.”

The editor says it’s a “live discussion” within the paper whether the man should be named.

Media lawyer Mark Polden says there’s no apparent legal reason to keep the name secret. “Normally people would report it when a person is arrested,” he said. “The red-tops would usually have this all over the front page.”

Even if a suppression order had been issued in the UK — and there is no evidence one has — it would not apply in Australia.

A media lawyer, who has consulted for News Limited, says he reckons the decision not to identify the man was taken for editorial rather than legal reasons. Editors have apparently decided to protect his identity due to the damage to his reputation and reports of his mental health decline. For now, Crikey makes the same decision.

When the entertainer was first questioned in November, friends close to him told News Limited’s Charles Miranda he was “almost suicidal”. According to recent reports by Miranda, he is “fragile”. The Mirror quoted one friend as saying he is in “excruciating agony and at his wits’ end”.

The man may also not have been named because of suspicions charges will not be laid. The Daily Mail reported last week that only three of the 11 men arrested over suspected sex offences in the aftermath of the Savile scandal are likely to be charged. The British media may also be doubly cautious after the BBC’s Newsnight program last year broadcast a report falsely accusing (but not naming) a prominent Conservative, Lord McAlpine, of child abuse.

Nevertheless, Derryn Hinch believes the man should be named because it is “a fact” and the public has a right to know.

“There is no legal restraint on naming [X] as long as you don’t imply guilt,” he said. “It’s a joke — Twitter has been all over it for days … I’m puzzled and I think it’s absolutely hypocritical of them not to do it. [Hey Dad star] Robert Hughes was on every newspaper front page long before he was charged.”

On the weekend, Sunday Telegraph deputy editor Claire Harvey wrote she was “proud” the paper had not named the entertainer:

“To name him at this point — before he has been charged — is, I think, totally unfair.

“He is a globally famous man whose reputation will be completely wrecked by any suggestion of sexual impropriety.”