Ceredigion Herald editor guilty of breaking anonymity law

Thomas Sinclair Image copyright PA

A newspaper editor who "skim read at best" an article containing information likely to identify a sex offence victim has been ordered to pay £3,650 in fines and compensation.

Thomas Sinclair, 37, who owns and edits the Ceredigion Herald, was found guilty of breaching the law giving victims anonymity for life.

Sinclair, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, had been on trial at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court.

He will appeal against the conviction.

District Judge David Parsons said the offence had "enormous" potential to deter other victims from coming forward.

The prosecution claimed during his trial last month that by including details of the relationship between the victim and defendant in a court report about a man convicted of voyeurism, along with other details, the article contained enough information to allow the public to make a jigsaw identification of the woman.

Judge Parsons said the defendant in the case lived in a small village and when "coupled with local knowledge", work colleagues, friends, relatives and acquaintances, could have identified her after reading the article.

Finding Sinclair guilty, the judge said: "The protection of victims of sexual offences is a matter of considerable concern.

"This court must be mindful of the real psychological harm to the victim, harm confirmed by this victim in her victim impact statement."

The court heard Sinclair accepted publishing the story but denied it was likely to lead to the woman's identification and said she would not have known about the article had it not been for his prosecution.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said she had been told before the sex offence trial that her details would not be made public.

She said: "Finding out about the article has set me back and means the stress of this case is not over as it means there is now another court case involving me."

'Slipped through the net'

During his trial in April, Matthew Paul, defending Sinclair, said there was little risk of the victim being identified because only around 0.68% of the county's population - or about 450 people - read the paper.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, he said circulation had increased to 3,200 but advertising revenue had been "dented" by "the running of the defence in this case".

Mr Paul added: "It is regretted by Mr Sinclair that this slipped through the net. He did not himself have any particular role in reading it ... he skim read it at best."

Sinclair was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay the victim £1,500 compensation, costs of £500 and a surcharge of £150.

After the hearing, he vowed to appeal against both the conviction and sentence.

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