The Metropolitan Police has blamed a “communication error” for wrongly claiming that reporting restrictions prevented the press from identifying an alleged murder victim.
The force issued a press release earlier today reporting that a 22-year-old man had been charged with the alleged murder and rape of an elderly woman at her home in Haringey.
It wrongly added that magistrates had placed reporting restrictions on the identification of the woman.
Following the charge hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court today, the Met wrote: “We are advised that magistrates imposed reporting restrictions preventing the identification of the victim.”
The Met was also careful not to name the woman in its release.
One journalist derided the decision as “farcical” on social media while another pointed out there was no law to protect the identity of the dead.
But the Met has since updated the story with the full name and picture of 89-year-old Dorothy Woolmer (pictured).
The London Magistrates Courts and the Met both told Press Gazette that there were never any reporting restrictions on the case.
A Met spokeswoman said the false guidance in its press release was the result of a “communication error” and said the force would be sending a note to the media on the matter.
Independent home affairs and security correspondent Lizzie Dearden tweeted: “There appears to have been some confusion around rape victims’ right to automatic anonymity.
“The anonymity ceases to automatically apply when a victim dies, as in this alleged murder case.
“Any journalist in court would have said as much when the discussion was had between police, court clerk and CPS, but we didn’t know the hearing was taking place. Farcical.”
Picture: Met Police