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Investigation under way over press naming of rape victim

Police are investigating an allegation of contempt of court after a rape victim was inadvertently named by a Surrey newspaper.

Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976, the victims of certain sexual offences – including rape – have anonymity for life.

The Epsom Guardian named the victim by using the courtesy title “Mrs” and her surname in the ninth paragraph of its court report.

A spokesman for Surrey police said: “The matter is now in the hands of the complainant’s solicitor and police have been called in to investigate an allegation of contempt of court.”

The proprietor, editor and/or publisher could each be liable for a ‘Level 5′ fine of up to £5,000 each, plus any costs imposed by the court.

The offence of breaching the 1976 Act is strict liability, the only defence being obtaining written consent of the victim.

Section 2 says that proceedings can only be initiated by, or with the consent of the Attorney General.

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