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BBC Asian Network reporter who named rape victim in radio broadcast was 'diligent journalist who's made a mistake', court hears

A victim of sexual exploitation in Rotherham panicked and felt sick after she heard her identity revealed in a live BBC radio broadcast, a court has heard.

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

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

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

Prosecutor Neil Usher told the court how Majithia made the mistake as he wrongly believed the name he used was a pseudonym.

Usher said the woman was listening to the broadcast as it went out live.

In a statement read to the court, the complainant said: “I immediately panicked but carried on listening.”

She added: “I cannot believe this has happened to me.”

In her statement, the woman said it had been hard enough to give evidence at the Sheffield Crown Court trial and added: “To then have my name given out as a victim of rape on a BBC radio station was unbelievable.”

She said it has made her “feel sick”.

She also said in her statement: “At this point I went into full meltdown – panicking and crying – and I didn’t hear anything else that was said.”

Usher said that Ansari, 43, was the producer who checked the script used by his reporter ahead of the live report on 6 February.

Giving evidence, Majithia said he had not covered a trial before.

Majithia told the court he found out about his mistake about ten minutes after the broadcast when he had a call from Jayne Senior, a community worker in Rotherham.

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.”

The reporter drafted an email to the woman apologising for the “genuine mistake” but it was not sent due to advice from his superiors.

In the email he said: “I had a number of different things going on in my head that afternoon and I made a human error. It was a moment of confusion I will regret forever.”

He told the court he had been suffering from stress at work which he said Ansari was aware of.

Majithia told the court how he had begun to report the case on the second day of the trial after travelling up from London the night before.

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

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

The reporter said that he had a number of previous dealings with the woman as he investigated the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal and had become confused, thinking that the name he had always called her was her real one, when it was not.

Majithia said that he returned to London very upset and met Ansari in a pub near their office that night.

He said he had been at the BBC for nine years but only been a reporter for a year.

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

She also said that Majithia was a “diligent journalist who’s made a mistake” and asked that his emailed apology should be read to the complainant.

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