Ian Watkins case – breach of the anonymity afforded to victims?

This week we have covered the case of Ian Watkins (who pleaded guilty to child abuse offences) and James Baines, who received a suspended sentence for tweeting photographs purporting to be of Jon Venables.

We noted that the names of the two co-defendants of Mr Watkins were not named. This was not an oversight in the press, but is as a result of the way the law operates to protect the victims of sexual offences (namely the children of the two co-defendants).

We also noted that the Court in the case of Mr Baines warned that breaches of Court orders are taken very seriously and almost always results in a custodial sentence.

Why are we saying this? Well, Dominic Grieve, the Attorney-General, tweeted the following today:

The law is clear. Anyone naming the co-defendants is breaking the law and may find themselves up in Court before being sent to prison. If you’re tempted to tweet or re-tweet the above information, don’t. You have been warned!

7 thoughts on “Ian Watkins case – breach of the anonymity afforded to victims?

  1. jondmack

    The CPS website indicates that proceedings won’t be brought where s39 is breached by means of social media. The problem here is that section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 does apply to social media. Is that a fair summary?

    1. polruan

      Apparently, one of those who may have fallen foul of this ban is Peaches Geldof. The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25145096) says she tweeted the names to her 160,000 followers, having found the two names online in the US. That’s a fair few people! She has now deleted the tweet.

  2. Andrew

    I don’t know their names and I don’t want to – except in the sense that I would prefer not to meet them, but then whatever I do I don’t think I will be sent where they are going for a substantial time. But there will be others who do and who spread the information by word of mouth, which is not in practice going to get them into trouble this side of a world of telescreens.

    It used to be said that a lie can be half way round the world before the truth has got its boots on. Assuming that the names given in the tweets were correct, the truth is now as speedy as the biggest whopper ever told!

  3. polruan

    Interesting take on the matter, Andrew. I shall have to ponder the implications of that!

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