Editor closed weekly Wales paper after conviction over article identifying sex offence victim

The owner and editor of a series of regional newspapers in Wales has said that his conviction for identifying a sexual offence victim contributed towards the closure of the title in which it appeared.

Thomas Sinclair was found to have breached the Sex Offences Act, which gives victims anonymity for life, and ordered to pay £3,650 in fines and compensation in May last year after the article appeared in weekly paper the Ceredigion Herald.

The judge at the time said the breach had “enormous” potential to deter other victims from coming forward. Sinclair, 38, is currently appealing his conviction in Swansea Crown Court.

He told Press Gazette: “I did shut the Ceredigion Herald down and the truth is that the court case didn’t help the advertising situation with the paper, obviously, but we are launching a 24-hour online news channel at the end of this month and we are putting a lot of resources into that.”

According to Sinclair there were no job losses as a result of the closure.

He added: “The commercial decision was to concentrate on the online news [more] than the Ceredigion Herald which has always been the hardest and most difficult region to cover both geographically and commercially…

“Without the court case it was never going to make much money, but the court case didn’t help the situation basically.”

Sinclair said the complaint against him and the paper over the sex offence case coverage in fact came from the defendant and not the victim.

“It almost seems like this is a sexual offender taking his revenge on the newspaper because he didn’t want to be named for committing a sexual offence,” he said.

Sinclair told the court at an appeal hearing on Friday that he had been away from the office on the day the story went to print in the Herald, having previously claimed that he had “skim read it at best”.

The final edition of the Ceredigion Herald was published on 15 December, but the area is still to be covered online at Herald News 24.

Three other titles in the series, the Pembrokeshire Herald, Carmarthenshire Herald and Llanelli Herald are all still in print.

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