Sexual abuse victim in Rotherham ‘felt sick’ to be named on live radio, court told

A victim of sexual exploitation in Rotherham screamed and was “quite hysterical” after she heard her identity revealed in a live BBC radio broadcast, a court has heard.

Senior BBC executive Arif Ansari is on trial accused of breaching the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 which entitles all complainants of sexual offences to lifelong anonymity.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday how BBC Asian Network reporter Rickin Majithia revealed the real name of the complainant in a rape trial during a live report in February 2018.

Community worker Jayne Senior told the court the woman rang her immediately after she heard Mr Majithia’s report.

Ms Senior said: “I just heard her start to scream and was quite hysterical – ‘he’s named me, he’s named me’.”

In a statement read to the court, the complainant said: “At this point I went into full meltdown – panicking and crying – and I didn’t hear anything else that was said.”

“I cannot believe this has happened to me,” she said and added that it made her “feel sick”.

Mr Majithia told the court the woman gave evidence in court from behind a screen and he wrongly assumed that when her forename was used it was a pseudonym.

He said: “I was horrified and I am horrified.

“I’m deeply, deeply sorry to the victim and her family. It’s something I will regret until the day I die.”

Mr Majithia, who said he had never reported on a court case before, said he had begun to report the case on the second day of the trial after travelling up from London the night before.

He had met the complainant before and had become confused between her real name and the pseudonym she used for media interviews and on social media.

The case involved a taxi driver who raped the woman when she was a teenager in Rotherham.

The reporter gave evidence on the first day of the trial of Ansari, 43, who is the head of news at the BBC Asian Network.

The court heard Ansari (pictured) was the producer who checked the script used by his reporter ahead of the live report on February 6.

In police interviews read to the court, Ansari said he had no reason to believe his reporter was using the complainant’s real name when he had told him it was a pseudonym.

Ansari told police Mr Majithia was a driven journalist who would always come up with stories, but he added: “The flip side of this was that he could be a bit of a loose cannon.”

After he finished giving evidence, District Judge Naomi Redhouse said to Mr Majithia: “This is not a trial in which you’ve been charged with anything. I hope you understand that.”

She said he was a “diligent journalist who’s made a mistake”.

At the end Monday’s proceedings, Trevor Burke QC, defending, submitted there was no case to answer but this was rejected by the judge.

Mr Burke said that as Mr Majithia said in his broadcast that the name he used was a pseudonym then it was not reasonable to expect that the woman had been identified to a notional member of the public.

The barrister also argued that as Mr Majithia spelled the woman’s second name wrong in his script and then mispronounced it on air, he had not broadcast her identity within the meaning of the statute.

Ansari, of BBC Portland Place, London, denies breaching the act.

The case was adjourned until Friday.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) BBC.