Scarborough revenge porn victim launches campaign for anonymity after being named in media

Julia Mulligan and Keeley Richards-Shaw

Julia Mulligan and Keeley Richards-Shaw

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A Yorkshire victim of revenge porn has launched an online petition calling for the Government to end the “horrible anomaly” which allowed her to be named in media reports.

In July, the ex-partner of Keeley Richards-Shaw, from Scarborough, became the first person sentenced under new “revenge porn’ laws for sharing explicit images of her.

“Reliving my experiences through the court process was bad enough but when my name was splashed across the national media, I was totally distraught.”

Keeley Richards-Shaw

But she was left distraught after national media reports of the case did not grant her anonymity, taking advantage of a legal loophole where revenge porn victims do not have the same legal protection as other sex assault victims.

Ms Richards-Shaw has now teamed up with North Yorkshire crime commissioner Julia Mulligan to call for an urgent change in the law.

The 31-year-old spoke about her experiences today during a live appearance on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC television.

She said: “Reliving my experiences through the court process was bad enough but when my name was splashed across the national media, I was totally distraught.

“I hadn’t even told my own brother about what I had gone through. So I felt humiliated when people were ringing my parents and telling them they had seen my story on the internet.

“I regard myself as a very private person. But while I lost my right to privacy over what happened to me, I am determined to raise the issue as much as I can to ensure that victims of this sort of crime are not publically named in the future.

“I regard the campaign as a fight for fairness and decent treatment of revenge porn victims.”

The law currently gives victims of revenge porn no right to anonymity. Unlike victims of other sexual assaults, anyone can name them - meaning they can be publicly named across the media.

Launching the campaign today, Mrs Mulligan said: “It’s wrong that victims of this very personal and distressing crime are being violated all over again by their stories being played out online and in the media.

“Keeley has lived through this devastating experience and knows better than anyone the pain it can cause.

“I’m deeply impressed by her bravery in coming forward to talk publicly about her experiences and I am pleased to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with her in calling on the Government to introduce measures that protect victims’ anonymity.”

The experiences of Ms Richards-Shaw, a mother-of-one, were made public when her ex-boyfriend Alec Brewer became the first person to be sentenced under new laws to tackle revenge porn after he shared intimate photos he had taken of her without her knowledge.

Julia Mulligan said: “While Keeley’s local newspaper did the right thing and protected Keeley’s identity in its coverage of the court case, other media didn’t and Keeley’s name and picture appeared in national newspapers.

“Any victim of revenge porn should have full confidence that their identity will be protected by law and this matter deserves to be far higher up the political agenda.

“The fact that revenge porn victims don’t benefit from this type of legal protection is a horrible anomaly which will continue to bring real distress unless the Government steps in and takes action.”

Ms Richards-Shaw was photographed by her ex-boyfriend Brewer, 30, without her knowledge.

The two had been childhood sweethearts but when she broke off their relationship he shared photos of her with his new partner and had other photos of her stored on his laptop.

The victim found out about the photos after Brewer turned up at her home asking to be let in. His new girlfriend arrived and later showed Mrs Richards-Shaw the photos Brewer had sent her.

She immediately reported the matter to police who pressed charges against Brewer, leading to him becoming the first person in England to be sentenced for a revenge porn offence.

He was given a 13-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay an £80 surcharge, a £180 court charge and £85 costs.

Ms Richards-Shaw and Mrs Mulligan have jointly written to the Justice Secretary Michael Gove and the chair of the Justice Select Committee Bob O’Neill requesting meetings to discuss the issue.

They also today launched an online petition Change the Law: No More Naming of Revenge Porn Victims which can be accessed at www.NoMoreNaming.com.