POLICE are planning to arrest a number of Twitter users who are alleged to have named the 19-year-old rape victim of Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans.
Officers have launched an investigation after the girl was first identified on the social networking site just hours after the striker was found guilty of the attack. The victim’s name was circulated so widely that it is understood to have been one of the top “trending”, or most used words, on the site over the weekend.
Yesterday, a spokesman for North Wales police confirmed arrests would be made in connection with her identity being revealed. The force also said it was looking into a report by Sky News as part of the same investigation. The broadcaster inadvertently displayed a Twitter feed that named the victim during its coverage of the reaction to Evans's five year sentence.
Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: "North Wales police will seek to ensure that the legal anonymity of victims in rape cases under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, is protected and those who commit offences in this regard will be brought before the criminal justice system.
“We wish to reassure victims of serious sexual offences of our continuing determination to support them.”
Evans was jailed at Caernarfon Crown Court last Friday after being found guilty of raping the woman who was "too drunk to consent". He admitted having sex with the victim at a hotel in north Wales last May.
His co-accused, Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, who also admitted having sex with the victim, was found not guilty of the same charge.
Sky yesterday issued an apology after briefly flashing up on screen the victim’s name during its report on Twitter users taking to the site to reveal her identity.
A spokeswoman said: "In our coverage last night we very briefly revealed the victim's name despite heavy redaction, and if watching in real-time viewers would not have noticed.
"We would, however, like to apologise to the victim and her family for any distress caused."
An Ofcom spokesman said that the regulator was not currently investigating to see if Sky's error breached the broadcasting code.
A spokesman for the media regulator said: "Broadcasters must comply with our rules to protect the privacy of people who appear in their programmes.
"However, identifying victims of sexual assault is a criminal offence and as such is primarily an issue for the police."
Victims of sexual assault are guaranteed the legal right to lifetime anonymity and publishing their name is a criminal offence, with fines up to £5,000.