NEWSDESK: Ian Watkins' child victims still need protection

South Wales Argus: CAUGHT: Liam Williams is tackled by Quade Cooper and Israel Folau CAUGHT: Liam Williams is tackled by Quade Cooper and Israel Folau

THERE are some things we need to face which make right-thinking people's stomach turn.

The depraved behaviour of former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins is one such case, after last week admitting child sex offences including the attempted rape of a baby.

I wish journalists didn't have to report these cases because they weren't happening.

But these vile acts are happening in our communities.

And part of the reason people like Watkins' behaviour goes unchecked is that they use secrecy and our reluctance to believe someone can be that disgusting, be so little a real human being, especially when they are in the public eye.

At the weekend, former band mates of the paedophile Watkins appealed for other victims to come forward.

Lostprophets said they would forever be "haunted" by what Watkins had done.

They said they were unaware of his actions.

In a statement they said they "never imagined him capable" of such offences.

The statement on Facebook was posted from Jamie Oliver, Lee Gaze, Luke Johnson, Mike Lewis and Stuart Richardson. They said they had "hoped it was all a mistake".

"Sadly, the true extend of his appalling behaviour is now impossible to deny," said the statement.

"Many of you understandably want to know if we knew what Ian was doing. To be clear: we did not," they added.

The statement went on: "We are heartbroken, angry, and disgusted at what has been revealed.

"This is something that will haunt us for the rest of our lives."

South Wales Police officers, who issued their own appeal after last week's court hearing, are now investigating new leads after receiving around a dozen calls.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Doyle described it as "the most shocking case I have ever seen".

Watkins, who is 36 and from Pontypridd, will be sentenced on December 18.

And given the behaviour of one Z-list "celebrity" and a few internet trolls last week, here's something anyone misguided enough to think they know better than the courts or broadcast media and newspaper reporters with extensive legal training should know.

Watkins' victims have anonymity for life - enshrined in law.

And that is why Watkins' co-accused have remained anonymous. Because identifying them would lead to the identification of innocent victims.

The only way an adult victim of a sex offence can be named publicly is if they make the difficult decision to sign a legal waiver to that anonymity. And that means they can never get that anonymity back.

It's a brave decision to take. And we have reported on those who are now adults who have made it so that other victims of crimes like this will come forward.

But the key words here are "now adults".

Children cannot waive their rights.

They above all need to be protected. And anyone breaking the anonymity law could face prosecution.

This naïve stuff on the net has to stop for other reasons, too.

What we should be concentrating on is ensuring no one is from now on able to use celebrity as a cover for abuse.

That victims get every ounce of help.

That perpetrators of crimes like these are brought to justice.

And that when serious allegations are made against people in the public eye, they are properly investigated as they would be against anyone else.

Selling a few records like Watkins, or being on TV like Jimmy Savile, should make no difference in the way authorities investigate these cases.

The police watchdog is investigating South Yorkshire Police's handling of complaints about Watkins.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the force's handling of a complaint made against him in 2012.

And it has already opened an investigation into whether South Wales Police failed to act quickly enough.

We need to await the specifics in these investigations to find out if mistakes were made.

If they were - and I stress again the word 'if' - hard lessons must be learned. Quickly.

Now or never for woeful Wales

IRELAND have no reason to beat themselves up after being beaten by the All Blacks in the dying seconds of their match because they were beaten by brilliance.

Wales, however, have no such consolation after yet another heartbreak against Australia. Wales lost that match, however much Gatland questions the refereeing decisions, however good Australia were. It’s the same old story. Chances missed. The wrong decision being taken under pressure.

Oh Liam, Liam, why did you forget the mantra “give it to George?”

And six minutes without a sin-binned Quade Cooper.

If not then, when?

Comments (2)

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8:16am Tue 3 Dec 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

Should someone accused of a sex offences be given anonymity until they are found guilty though. Many people who have been falsely accused have had their names dragged through the mud - not only by 'trolls' on the internet, but also by the two bit hacks who masquerade as 'journalists' who - despite Leveson - continue to spew lie upon lie in used bogroll masquerading as 'news'papers. And on that note this 'nasty stuff' in the tabloids has to stop too - and considering the stream of editorials alerting us to the supposed dangers that the Leveson Inquiry might impact upon press freedoms (presumably that without responsibility), perhaps the self-proclaimed 'unbiased' Argus might care to balance things out a little and provide us with an editorial on what think of the current Rebekah Brooks-Andy Coulson affair, on which most mainstream print media seem suspiciously quite.
Should someone accused of a sex offences be given anonymity until they are found guilty though. Many people who have been falsely accused have had their names dragged through the mud - not only by 'trolls' on the internet, but also by the two bit hacks who masquerade as 'journalists' who - despite Leveson - continue to spew lie upon lie in used bogroll masquerading as 'news'papers. And on that note this 'nasty stuff' in the tabloids has to stop too - and considering the stream of editorials alerting us to the supposed dangers that the Leveson Inquiry might impact upon press freedoms (presumably that without responsibility), perhaps the self-proclaimed 'unbiased' Argus might care to balance things out a little and provide us with an editorial on what think of the current Rebekah Brooks-Andy Coulson affair, on which most mainstream print media seem suspiciously quite. Katie Re-Registered

2:52pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

KRR
We cannot comment on an ongoing court case. Neither can you. That is the law of the land, unless you are willing to risk being prosecuted for contempt of court.
At the conclusion of the trial I am sure we will offer a view. Who knows? You might even agree with it.
KRR We cannot comment on an ongoing court case. Neither can you. That is the law of the land, unless you are willing to risk being prosecuted for contempt of court. At the conclusion of the trial I am sure we will offer a view. Who knows? You might even agree with it. Kevin Ward - Editor

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