Man accused of 'naming rugby rape trial woman on social media' to be prosecuted
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Man accused of 'naming rugby rape trial woman on social media' to be prosecuted

A MAN accused of naming the identity of the woman at the centre of the rugby rape trial in Belfast earlier this year has been charged with an offence.

Prosecutors allege the man identified the woman in a social media post before ex-Ulster rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were cleared of rape in March.

The man faces a charge of breaching the lifetime ban on reporting the identity of an alleged victim, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said.

Complainants in rape trials in both Ireland and the UK are entitled to life-long anonymity and it is an offence to publish their identity.

The man faces a fine of up to £5,000 if convicted of the offence.

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He has not been named.

Olding and Jackson were subsequently sacked by club and country over explicit WhatsApp texts (Image: Inpho)

A PPS spokesperson said: "The Public Prosecution Service can confirm it has taken a decision to prosecute one person in relation to an allegation of breaching the anonymity granted to a complainant in a high profile rape trial.

"After a careful consideration of all evidence, it has been decided to prosecute that person on one charge of breaching the lifetime ban on reporting the identity of an alleged victim".

The PPS also revealed a second suspect alleged to have named the woman will not face prosecution due to insufficient evidence.

"In taking these decisions, senior prosecutors considered evidence received from police in relation to social media posts which were alleged to have potentially identified a complainant involved in trial proceedings which ran at Belfast Crown Court from January to March 2018," the spokesperson added.

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Both Jackson and Olding were sacked by club and country in the wake of their acquittal over explicit WhatsApp chats revealed during their nine-week trial and are now playing for teams in France.

Two other men, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, were also unanimously acquitted of lesser charges connected to the alleged incident at Jackson’s house in June 2016.