A Wearside campaigner has hit out at “disgraceful” comments by controversial columnist Katie Hopkins after she branded the victim in the Adam Johnson sex offences case a “s**g” on Twitter.
Hopkins sent a series of tweets criticising the schoolgirl who was groomed and sexually abused by the former Sunderland footballer.
The messages came just days after Johnson, 28, was convicted of a charge of sexual activity with a 15-year-old after a trial lasting more than two weeks.
The jury found him guilty with a majority verdict of 10-2. He was cleared of a further offence of sexual activity with her.
Prior to the start of the trial, Johnson admitted charges of grooming and kissing the same girl.
Hopkins weighed into the debate on Twitter, telling her more than 625,000 followers: “Adam Johnson is not a Paedo. At 15, I was not a child. And if either are victims, hers is of stupidity. His, of short-term financial success.”
Katie Hopkins is unfortunately reflecting the opinions of an extremely nasty minority of women in this country who are still determined on social media to attack a girl who was the victim of an older, powerful man.Claire Phillipson
She also said: “Adam Johnson is the new Cecil the Lion killer. Except, Cecil is a 15-year-old girl who wanted to impress her mates by playing with guns.”
Hopkins replied to Twitter users angry with her comments by saying that the girl was “not a child” but someone who was “trying to impress her mates”.
She added: “Hey presto. From s**g to wag.”
Hopkins’ comments led to a backlash on Twitter, and from campaigners.
Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said: “Katie Hopkins is unfortunately reflecting the opinions of an extremely nasty minority of women in this country who are still determined on social media to attack a girl who was the victim of an older, powerful man.
“Their behaviour is disgraceful.
“With Katie Hopkins, it is worse, because she has a large platform and is therefore inciting other people to continue to bully this girl.
“She has frankly been through enough, and should now be left alone.”
Ms Phillipson added: “We are seeing this more and more, where victims have to go through three trials. The case is announced in the media, and everyone decides to discuss it before it goes to court.
“Then there is the court case, and after that they go through another trial by social media.
“It is making it harder and harder for women to come forward and is making the whole process much more difficult.
“She has already had an awful lot of vitriol directed at her.”
An NSPCC spokesman said: “The young victim in this case was below the age of consent, which exists to protect children from being sexually exploited by adults.
“Adam Johnson committed serious offences and was quite rightly prosecuted.”
Last week following the verdict, a victim statement from the girl was read outside court by DC Kimberly Walton, the officer investigating the case.
In it, the girl said she had “faced abuse” after Johnson continued to claim his innocence. She added that the incidents have turned her life upside down.
Katie Hopkins’ management did not respond to calls for comment