Gloucester man hands himself into police over Michael Le Vell tweets
CORRIE star Michael Le Vell's child sex abuse trial took a twist when a Gloucester man handed himself into police for revealing the identity of the actor's alleged victim on Twitter.
The 43-year-old, from Abbeymead, walked into Gloucester police station and was arrested on suspicion of tweeting the identity of a girl who has accused actor Le Vell, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster, of rape.
Victims in sex abuse trials are granted anonymity by law and those who breach that are in contempt of court, and could face jail. The law states that naming victims could, for example, deter sex victims from coming forward.
Gloucestershire police said they take social media crimes seriously.
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The county has seen 205 reports of Twitter and Facebook crimes since August 2010 – ranging from sexual offences to harassment and forgery.
A police spokesman said: "We take any crimes happening via social media or the internet very seriously. We have not had a case like this previously in Gloucestershire but it is a reminder to people to act responsibly online."
Media lawyer Tony Jaffa, partner at Foot Anstey, had cautionary words for those who wade into the debate online.
He said: "If you feel the urge to comment on an approaching or on-going criminal trial, especially those involving children or sexual offences, my advice is simple: don't do it. It is very easy to end up in hot water. Ignorance of the law is no defence."
Le Vell, 48, who is appearing under his real name Michael Turner, denies 12 charges including five of rape.
Superintendent Phil Davies, from Greater Manchester Police, which is leading the investigation into the tweet under the Sexual Offences Act 1992, said: "Public identification of victims of sex abuse, in particular child victims engaged in court proceedings, can cause both immediate and long term distress and harm, especially in cases as serious as this. The same principles apply to social media as they do to the mainstream media.
"When people use social media they are required by the law to keep victims anonymous in the same way as people who work in mainstream media." The Gloucester man, who was arrested on Wednesday night, has been released on bail.