In the Media

Police investigating alleged naming of Ched Evans rape victim online

PUBLISHED April 23, 2012

The Sheffield United striker and Wales international was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on Friday after having sex with a teenager who was "too drunk to consent".

The 23 year-old had admitted sleeping with the woman at a Premier Inn after a drunken night out in Rhyl, north Wales, while friends watched and tried to film it on a mobile phone, but denied taking advantage of her.

His co-defendant, the Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, was acquitted of rape at Caernarfon crown court.

Since then supporters of Evans have used social networking services such as Twitter to protest his innocence.

On Sunday several users even named a woman who they said was the rape victim and posted images of a Twitter account supposedly in her name, claiming she had set up the footballer for money.

But legal experts and equality campaigners pointed out they could be breaking the law that guarantees anonymity to those subjected to sexual assaults, the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.

The legislation states that when a rape allegation has been made against someone, neither their name nor address nor picture can be published in England and Wales during their lifetime, in a "written publication available to the public", if it leads to their identification as a victim.

Holly Dustin, of the End Violence Against Women coalition, wrote on Twitter: "Hi #justiceforched tweeters who r abusing/naming woman #chedevans raped - you've been reported to police for contempt of court & harassment."

But she also warned that the issue would "test police & courts ability to deal with online issues".

Last year thousands of Twitter users defied a High Court court order to identify Ryan Giggs as the footballer who had won an injunction to protect his private life, prompting his lawyers to try to obtain their personal details so they could be prosecuted for contempt of court.

A spokesman for North Wales Police said: "We are aware of reports of comments on social media sites and are collating all relevant information."