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IPCC investigating whether police failed to act quickly enough over Ian Watkins

By | Published on Friday 29 November 2013

Ian Watkins

A detective sergeant is being investigated by the police watchdog, it has been confirmed, after allegations that warnings about former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins were ignored.

As previously reported, the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed back in February this year that South Wales Police had put itself forward for investigation over the matter, but could not then provide any further details due to the ongoing proceedings against Watkins.

Now a former girlfriend of Watkins has told reporters that she informed police more than once that her ex-partner had confessed to being a paedophile, but that no action was taken until the investigation began into the sexual assaults against very young children to which the musician pleaded guilty earlier this week.

In addition to the information provided to police by Joanne Majic, it is thought South Wales Police received information from four other police forces around the UK after complaints were made about the singer.

Following Watkins’ guilty plea earlier this week, which came after a year of the singer insisting he was innocent of the charges against him, the Commissioner For Wales of the IPCC, Tom Davies, re-confirmed that the matter had been referred to him in late January, a month after the singer was arrested.

Davies told reporters this week: “We received a referral from South Wales Police on 25 Jan 2013 relating to Ian Watkins. Following a thorough assessment I have decided that we will carry out an independent investigation. Our investigation will determine whether or not South Wales Police failed to take appropriate and timely action in relation to information they were in receipt of in advance of Mr Watkins subsequent arrest”.

The Commissioner added: “The referral from the force was into the alleged inaction of one officer, who is also being investigated in a separate case over similar allegations”.

Speaking to the tabloids, Majic said she believes that Watkins may have abused hundreds of young fans over the years, while the former boyfriend of another girl allegedly targeted by the singer when she was fifteen told reporters: “He used his fame to win impressionable girls over and used his glamour to make them do unspeakable things. My girlfriend was about fifteen when he found her on a Lostprophets chat forum and started to seduce her. She told me he enjoyed making her dress like a little girl and enjoyed humiliating her”.

In other developments following Watkins’ guilty plea on Tuesday, HMV has told NME that it is now removing Lostprophets releases from its shelves. A spokesperson for the retailer said that staff had been told to remove all music by the band, and that their tracks would also be taken off the company’s download store. At the time of writing, a profile for the band is still live on but it is not possible to purchase their music.

Elsewhere, H from Steps, real name Ian Watkins, has confirmed he is consulting his lawyers after an American website used his picture alongside a report on the Lostprophets man’s crimes. The pop singer had already been subjected to a torrent of abuse on the social networks from confused bystanders, both this week and when his namesake was arrested just under a year ago, but the inclusion of his photo on a story posted by E! Online only furthered the case of mistaken identity.

Although E! corrected its error once aware of it and said it “deeply regrets” the mistake, a spokesman for the former Steps star confirmed he was taking legal advice about the matter.

The rep told reporters: “Ian is deeply upset at being linked by E! Online to these awful allegations. Clearly he has nothing whatsoever to do with this matter and E! Online has confirmed that it used a photograph of Ian ‘H’ Watkins by mistake. This is an extremely serious and damaging mistake to have made and this matter has been referred to our lawyers”.

A spokesman for the US celebrity site said: “E! Online deeply regrets originally publishing an image of Ian ‘H’ Watkins of the band Steps, rather than Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, and the error was corrected immediately. We are investigating the matter and will take appropriate action. Additionally, E! Online has reached out to Ian ‘H’ Watkins, via his management, to apologise directly”.

The Watkins case may also cause problems for other celebrities, as legal experts warned social networkers against publishing the names of the two women also involved in the sexual abuse crimes committed by the Lostprophets man. Because it was the children of the two women who Watkins abused, the defendants’ identities need to stay confidential to protect the victims in the case.

However, the two women’s names have been published in the past – initially via online court case schedules – even though media reporting the case this week have been careful not to reveal the other defendants’ names. Though not all social networkers were so careful, Peaches Geldof being the most prominent tweeter to reveal the women’s identities online.

It’s not clear what action, if any, will be taken against Geldof and others who tweeted the names, though if the matter is investigated further it will again test how conventional media law, including libel, privacy and in this case court reporting rules, impacts on social media. Geldof seemingly discovered the names of the defendants on a US website and was not aware on the restrictions in place in the UK preventing disclosure.

Responding to activity online since Watkins’ court appearance on Tuesday, the office of the UK Attorney General tweeted yesterday: “We understand that the names of the co-defendants in the Ian Watkins case have been posted online”, adding: “Victims of sex offences have lifetime anonymity. Publication of info which could identify them is a criminal offence and a police matter”.