Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Police probe Geldof's Watkins tweet

Police are investigating a tweet linked to the case involving paedophile Ian Watkins.
A tweet sent by Peaches Geldof is being looked at by police

Detectives investigating reports that Peaches Geldof named the two mothers whose babies were involved in abuse by disgraced rock star Ian Watkins have confirmed they are in talks with prosecutors.

The daughter of Boomtown Rats star Bob Geldof posted the names of the two women on Twitter after reportedly reading them on a US-based website - but has since removed them.

Lostprophets singer Watkins was branded a ''determined and committed paedophile'' after he pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a string of sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby.

The 36-year-old, from Pontypridd, South Wales, plotted the abuse with the two mothers in a series of text and internet messages.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Peter Doyle, of South Wales Police, said: " We are aware that the names of Ian Watkins' co- defendants have been published on social media channels.

"Clearly, there is strong public feeling about this case and many people are using social media forums to talk about the issues involved.

"We are currently in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the matter and will take action if appropriate.

"Our primary objective as an organisation remains the safeguarding of vulnerable people and children.

"Victims of sexual abuse have a right to anonymity in order to protect their future welfare and we urge those discussing the issues raised online to be careful about using information that identifies victims in cases like this."

Geldof, 24, who has more than 160,000 followers on Twitter, has worked as a journalist, writing columns for the Daily Telegraph and Elle Girl and articles for the Guardian.

The Attorney General's office also warned that sex offence victims have automatic lifetime anonymity and publishing details that can lead to their identification is a criminal offence.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office said: "We understand that the names of the co-defendants in the Ian Watkins case were posted online but have now been removed.

"As has been previously reported, the co-defendants were the mothers of the victims.

"Victims of sexual offences have automatic lifetime anonymity and the publication of names or information which can lead to their being identified is a criminal offence. This is a police matter."

Watkins, 36, from Pontypridd, South Wales, pleaded guilty to offences he had previously denied in a last-minute change of plea ahead of what would have been his trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

The charges included sexually touching a one-year-old and encouraging a groupie to abuse her own child during a sordid webcam chat.

Watkins also admitted possessing and making child porn as well as launching the plot to rape a baby.

Meanwhile, singer Ian H Watkins, formerly a member of chart-topping group Steps, was said to be "deeply upset" after he was mistaken for the Lostprophets frontman.

He has been the subject of online abuse due to the similarity of their names and his picture was accidentally used to illustrate a story about the case.

Website E! Online apologised and replaced the picture with the correct image, but the Steps singer has passed the matter on to his legal representatives.

A statement from his agent said: "Ian is deeply upset at being linked by E! Online to these awful allegations. This is an extremely serious and damaging mistake to have made and this matter has been referred to our lawyers."

Earlier this week, a man who tweeted images purporting to be of James Bulger's killer Jon Venables as an adult was given a 14-month suspended prison sentence for contempt of court.

It was the first time the Attorney General has brought contempt proceedings involving the use of social media, but a number of high-profile cases have seen people fined for breaking the law on Twitter or Facebook.

Nine people have been ordered to pay compensation to the woman raped by footballer Ched Evans for naming her online, while Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, agreed to pay former Tory peer Lord McAlpine £15,000 in damages for a libellous tweet posted last year.

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