Michael Le Vell trial: Man arrested over Facebook post identifying alleged victim

Coronation Street star stands accused of sexual assault and rape of a young girl, as police tell social media users it's 'not worth the risk' of breaching alleged victim's legally-protected anonymity

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The Independent Online

A man has been arrested after a post was put on Facebook about the ongoing trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell.

The soap star stands accused of the sexual assault and rape of a young girl who, as an alleged victim under the Sexual Offences Act 1992, cannot be named and is guaranteed anonymity for life.

Greater Manchester Police said they had detained a 45-year-old man from Trafford on suspicion of breaching those regulations online.

He is the third person to be questioned by police in relation to comments on social media about the case, and police have repeated warnings around revealing the identity of victims of sexual offences “either deliberately or inadvertently”.

Mr Le Vell, 48, played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV1 soap for 30 years, and is being tried under his real name of Michael Turner at Manchester Crown Court.

He denies five charges of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

A police spokesman said that a 28-year-old man was also interviewed under caution after sending a tweet about the alleged victim.

And on Wednesday a 43-year-old man in Gloucester was arrested for a similar offence.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Bridge, said: “This case has attracted huge interest and we have seen enormous amounts of comment and personal opinion across social media.

”I want to be explicitly clear - victims of sexual abuse, whether the offences are alleged or proven, are automatically granted anonymity for life and identifying such victims, either deliberately or inadvertently is a criminal offence.

“I also want to stress that ignorance of the law is not a defence and we take these matters very seriously.

”This is the second person to be arrested and a third has been interviewed under caution since the start of the trial because of comments on social media.

“We are monitoring social networks and people are reporting matters to us so it is simply not worth the risk.”

Le Vell's case will be back in court on Monday morning when closing speeches from barristers will take place, the judge will sum up the trial and the jury is expected to retire to consider its verdicts.