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Two people questioned after woman in rugby rape trial allegedly named on social media

It is an offence to publicly name the complainant in a rape trial, who is legally entitled to anonymity.

Jackson exiting the courthouse following the not guilty verdict earlier in the week.
Jackson exiting the courthouse following the not guilty verdict earlier in the week.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

TWO PEOPLE HAVE been questioned by police in the North, over allegedly naming the complainant in the Belfast rugby rape trial.

A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed to TheJournal.ie that a police investigation is ongoing into these matters.

In rape trials in the UK and Ireland, it is an offence to publish the names of complainants as they are entitled to anonymity.

However, during the 9-week trial the supposed name of the woman was mentioned a number of times on social media. Furthermore, photos said to be of that woman were distributed online, using services such as Whatsapp.

The pair questioned by the PSNI were interviewed in relation to an offence under Section 5 of the UK’s Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992, which prohibits the naming of a rape complainant.

Files have been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service for consideration.

All four men accused in the case – Paddy Jackson (26), Stuart Olding (24), Blane McIlroy (26) and Rory Harrison (25) – were found not guilty of all charges following over three hours of deliberations by a jury in Belfast on Wednesday.

Jackson and Olding were found not guilty of rape – with Jackson found not guilty of an additional charge of sexual assault – while McIlroy was found not guilty of exposure, and Harrison found not guilty of withholding information and perverting the course of justice.

In a statement read following the verdict, Paddy Jackson’s solicitor was critical of the role social media played in the trial.

Joe McVeigh said: “Vile commentary expressed on social media going well beyond fair comment has polluted the sphere of public discourse and raised real concerns about the integrity of the trial process.

Several days of this trial were lost to the problems thrown up by the intrusive infection of the process by social media. All the lawyers have been distracted by having to man the barriers against a flood of misinformed, misconceived and malicious content on the internet, particularly during the last phase of this trial.

Read: Investigation under way after juror in rugby rape trial made comments online

Read: Paddy Jackson intends to sue Senator over tweet sent after jury verdict

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Sean Murray

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