The former editor of the Sun newspaper has been convicted of breaching the Sexual Offences Act after the tabloid printed a pixelated photograph of footballer Adam Johnson’s teenage victim.
Johnson was found guilty of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and faces between five and 10 years in prison.
The former England and Sunderland player admitted two other counts and was cleared of one further charge.
Durham constabulary launched a prosecution against David Dinsmore, who was appointed editor of the paper in June 2013, after The Sun published a photograph of the girl following Johnson’s arrest last year.
The picture is understood to have been taken from her Facebook page, The Guardian reports.
Dinsmore was found guilty on Monday of breaching the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 following a trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.
Under the Act, victims are granted lifelong anonymity and the press prohibited from publishing the name, address, place of work or education or any image of the victim or any other detail that might lead to identification.
The judge ruled that although The Sun had altered the photo to disguise the girl’s identity, it could have left her identifiable by people who were familiar with her Facebook profile.
Judge Howard Riddle said he was “satisfied” Dinsmore did not realise he was committing an offence. He has been ordered to pay £1,300 costs and £1,000 in compensation to the victim.
Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham Constabulary, said: “We are delighted with today’s result. What Dinsmore did in the Sun was legally and morally wrong.
“As a victim of a sexual offence, the identity of this child should have been protected. Instead her picture, although pixelated, was plastered across a national tabloid.
“She was not fair game, she was a child who was groomed by a person in power for his own sexual gratification.
“I hope today’s result serves as reminder that anyone who identifies someone who may or may not be a victim of a sexual offence is committing a criminal act and we will take robust action.”
News UK has not commented on the trial, but confirmed Dinsmore has apologised to the girl and is happy to pay her compensation.