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Sussex Police in YouTube witness blunder
Teenage witnesses to a vicious Bexhill attack were accidentally named on the internet in a Sussex Police blunder.
Sussex Police has apologised after they released a YouTube video of an interview of soldier Ashley Dacosta after he was jailed for the racial assault which left Bexhill teenager Mo Bourner |in a coma.
In Dacosta’s interview he named several young witnesses. Sussex Police intended to publish an edited version of the footage, protecting the identities of the young witnesses. However, the unedited footage was posted on the video-sharing site by mistake. The force was yesterday forced to retract the footage and issue an apology.
Recalling the footage they said: “On Monday, July 30 a YouTube clip of a 20-minute interview of Ashley Dacosta in custody was released with a press release about his sentencing at Hove Crown Court for the attack on Mo Bourner.
“This particular clip was uploaded in error as it reveals the names of several witnesses. Kindly note because of this licence to use it has now been withdrawn.
“We apologise for the error and any inconvenience it may have caused and thank you for your cooperation in not using the clip.”
There is no automatic legal restriction on naming witnesses who give evidence in court unless a specific court order is put on the case protecting their anonymity.
No court order was in force preventing the witnesses being identified, but Sussex Police said it went “against their own policy”.
The police press officer responsible for the error said: “There were a number of young witnesses and there were teenagers named. We just thought it would be inappropriate to name the witnesses.”
A spokeswoman later added: “Having checked with the investigation team, there is not believed to be any risk to the individuals named, all of whom were already known to Dacosta. There were no court orders prohibiting their names being reported.
“The video was not listed on our public YouTube page but was accessible to those with the direct link that was released to the media.”
The link to the footage was published on Sussex Police’s website.