A tweeter was arrested last night on suspicion of using the social media site Twitter to reveal the identity of the alleged sex abuse victim in the Michael Le Vell trial.
A 43-year-old man from the Gloucester area was arrested on suspicion of breaching the Sexual Offences Act in relation to publically identifying a victim of alleged sex abuse. He has since been released on bail.
Le Vell, whose real name is Michael Turner and plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, is facing charges of 12 sexual abuse charges spanning eight years.
Superintendent Phil Davies from Greater Manchester Police, 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, and we are investigating this matter robustly.”
Under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992, all victims of sex abuse are automatically granted anonymity for life.
Le Vell, a 48-year-old father of two, is accused of five counts of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
The alleged abuse of a minor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is said to have taken place between September 2002 and September 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Superintendent Davies warned of the dangers of using social media without thinking beforehand.
“Social media is a fantastic tool for self-expression and part of modern life, but users should ask themselves whether they would want their own child subject to a Twitter feed,” he said.
“People may not understand that when they use social media they are required by the law to keep victims anonymous in exactly the same way as people who work in main stream media. The rule of law and consciousness of a sex abuse victim’s anonymity should be considered by all who follow these types of cases.”