A woman accused of creating a fake news story on Facebook about the alleged rape of a British model has been charged with publishing false and defamatory material.
The 29-year-old woman was arrested in London on Thursday and charged with creating an “unauthorised” Facebook account and making false representations.
The woman was detained in custody and bailed to appear at Woolwich Crown Court on November 25.
The woman has been suspended from Facebook.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the woman was “arrested on suspicion of publishing material which is false and misleading and which, if true, would constitute an offence under the Misuse of Online Services Act 2011”.
“She will be interviewed and cautioned over the publication of this material,” he said.
“This charge is an offence that could have serious consequences for the woman.”
Police said the charges are the first of its kind for the offence of publishing false or misleading material online.
In May, a man who was accused of publishing a fake story about the death of a woman was charged with making false and damaging claims online.
In a statement, the woman said she had been under the weather for the past few weeks and had been trying to get a job and had not been able to find any jobs.
The news of the arrest prompted her to take to social media to complain that her employer had contacted police about her claims.
The victim’s lawyer, Mark Evans, said she believed her client was being harassed by Facebook.
“The reality is she’s just been under some kind of stress and depression and that’s the reality that I’ve seen her going through,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“She’s just a really beautiful young woman who was a really nice girl to be around.
I’m not surprised at all that she’s been targeted.”
The alleged rape was said to have taken place in the early hours of October 29, when the woman went to a party at the home of the man.
He said she then called police and told them she was at a hotel room with a friend and had a sexual encounter with the man, who was then allegedly raped.
The alleged victim told police that she did not know the man’s name.
Ms Evans said the alleged victim’s Facebook account was hacked and that she was contacted by people claiming to be from Facebook’s parent company.
“That’s the main thing I’m concerned about,” he added.
“They were trying to make people believe that I had been hacked.”
“They said that I was posting these things to Facebook, and that Facebook would take down my page if I posted anything that was false or defamory, and it didn’t.”
I was actually very confused by all of that.
“Ms Evans also questioned why Facebook would allow her to make the accusations.”
Facebook is a platform where people come and share their ideas and experiences and that shouldn’t be for people to make allegations against other people.
“Ms Burdie said her client had spoken to a friend about the matter, and she was unsure if it was related to the alleged incident.”
My heart goes out to her and she’s dealing with that,” she said.