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Rape victim named in error by local paper

A newspaper has inadvertently named a rape victim in a court trial report.

The error happened in an Epsom Guardian report during the trial of a male nurse accused of raping a patient.

The naming occurred in the ninth paragraph of the story, after a rider higher up stating the woman could not be named for legal reasons.

The paper appears to have committed an offence under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976, which gives the victim of certain sexual offences – including rape – anonymity for life.

Managing editor at Newsquest South London, Jo Gumb, declined to comment on the story.

If the naming was an honest error – the victim was referred to with the courtesy title Mrs and her surname, well into the report – while not an excuse, it could reduce the seriousness of any offence.

By publishing her name, the Newsquest title’s proprietor, editor and publisher could be liable for fines of up to £5,000 each.

Media law expert Cathryn Smith, of Foot Anstey Sargent, said: “In such an instance the best thing to do would be to write to the trial judge – fall on your sword – explain how it happened and tell him what action has been taken to ensure it never happens again.”

  • The defendant was found guilty by jury at Kingston Crown Court and sentenced to seven years.

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