Peaches Geldof apologises over abuse case tweet
Model had named mothers who allowed Lostprophets singer access to babies
In tweets to her 160,000 followers, Peaches Geldof had urged newspapers to publish the names of the two women before doing so herself. She swiftly deleted the names after being bombarded with warnings from other Twitter users. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire
Peaches Geldof has taken to Twitter to apologise for tweeting the names of the two mothers whose babies were involved in abuse by disgraced rock star Ian Watkins.
The daughter of Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof posted a series of tweets this morning explaining that she had assumed the names were already “public knowledge”.
Her comments come after detectives confirmed last night that they were investigating reports of what she had done and were in talks with prosecutors.
Janet Street-Porter responds on Twitter
Peaches Geldof calls herself a 'journalist' what a joke. Blabs info which could harm innocent victims.— Janet Street-Porter (@The_Real_JSP) November 29, 2013
“I deleted my tweets, however, and apologise for any offence caused as at the time of tweeting had only seen everyone tweeting the names at me, so had assumed as they were also up on news websites and the crown court’s public file that they had been released for public knowledge,” she explained.
“Will check my facts before tweeting next time. Apologies and lesson learned.”
The celebrity posted the names of the two women on Twitter after reportedly reading them on a US-based website.
The seriousness of the situation has been reinforced by the Attorney General’s office, which has 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 went on to explain that it was aware of the online posting and the fact that it had been deleted.
She said: “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.”
Geldof (24), has more than 160,000 followers on Twitter, and has worked as a journalist, writing columns for the Daily Telegraph and Elle Girl and articles for the Guardian.
But her online error has also attracted scorn from outspoken journalist Janet Street-Porter. She tweeted: “Peaches Geldof calls herself a ‘journalist’ what a joke. Blabs info which could harm innocent victims.”
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.
Geldof today gives a full account of how she came to tweet the names of the two mothers involved.
“For all of those out there tweeting me about naming the paedophile mothers involved in the Ian Watkins case, the names have been in the public domain since December 12th when the court named them and put them up on their website for all to see,” she begins by explaining.
“Half of Twitter had tweeted out the names also aside from my (now deleted) tweet.
“The babies will most probably be given new identities to protect them from future abuse from other paedos who know who they are / their names from the videos Watkins uploaded to paedo websites.
“The question of whether or not to give anonymity to criminals in cases like this will go on forever. However these women and Watkins will be getting three meals a day, a double bed, cable TV etc all funded by the tax payer alongside not being named apparently. It makes me sad.”
She then moves on to explain that she had deleted her postings and apologises “for any offence caused”.
The mothers of the two victims, a boy and a girl, are subject to lifelong anonymity orders to prevent the identities of their children falling into the public domain.
The two mothers, both in their 20s and fans of Watkins’s band, were convicted of a series of sexual offences alongside the singer on Tuesday.
In tweets to her 160,000 followers, Geldof had urged newspapers to publish the names of the two women before doing so herself. She swiftly deleted the names after being bombarded with warnings from other Twitter users.
Geldof, the daughter of Boomtown Rats frontman Bob, told her Twitter followers: “I can’t even bring myself to comment on Watkins admitting raping babies either.
“As a mother of two babies myself all I can think of as I read the stories is how utterly traumatised those babies must have been during and how he has now robbed them of their childhoods all for his own sick, twisted pleasure.
“The papers MUST name ‘woman A & B’ who offered up their own babies to this monster in the hopes of being close to their (majorly talentless) musical hero without a backward glance, as they are equal in their monstrosity.
“It sickens me to see just how far the cult of celebrity and super fandom has come when grown women are passing their own kids round. I hate the world sometimes.”
Identifying victims of sexual offences is a crime under the Sexual Offences Act and carries a fine of up to £5,000, but publishers who flout the law often pay a further sum in compensation to the victim.
South Wales police, whose detectives led the Watkins investigation, codenamed Operation Globe, said they were investigating the Twitter posts alongside lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service.
DCI Peter Doyle, senior investigating officer from South Wales police, said: “We are aware that the names of Ian Watkins’s 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 in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the matter and will take action if appropriate. Our primary objective 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.”