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Tom Daley Twitter Case: Teen Arrested Over Malicious Tweet Gets Harassment Warning

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Olympic diver Tom Daley
Olympic diver Tom Daley

A 17-year-old youth arrested after a malicious tweet was sent to Olympic diver Tom Daley has been issued with a harassment warning.

Dorset police said the teenager was bailed pending an investigation into other communications on his Twitter account.

He was detained at a guesthouse in Weymouth hours after 18-year-old Daley received messages on the social networking site.

Daley and his Team GB diving partner Pete Waterfield missed out on a medal yesterday when they finished fourth in the men's synchronised 10m platform diving event at the Olympics.

Shortly afterwards, Daley retweeted a message from a user which said: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."

Daley responded by tweeting: "After giving it my all... you get idiots sending me this..."

Daley's father Rob died last year from brain cancer.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "The 17-year-old arrested in the Weymouth area this morning, Tuesday July 31, on suspicion of malicious communication has been issued with a harassment warning in connection to tweets to Olympic diver Tom Daley.

"In addition to the warning the teenager has been bailed to return to the police station at a later date whilst Dorset Police investigate other communications on his Twitter account."

It is understood Daley will be advised to keep off Twitter two days before he competes in the individual version of his event on August 10.

Ahead of the Olympics, the teenage sporting star said his late father was his inspiration.

The diver, from Plymouth in Devon, told the BBC: "Winning a medal would make all the struggles that I've had worthwhile. It's been my dream since a very young age to compete at an Olympics.

"I'm doing it for myself and my dad. It was both our dreams from a very young age.

"I always wanted to do it and Dad was so supportive of everything.

"It would make it extra special to do it for him."

British Olympic Association chef de mission Andy Hunt claimed the diver received 50,000 tweets on the day of Friday's opening ceremony of London 2012.

Asked if the 18-year-old needed to stay away from the website from now until his next event, Mr Hunt said today: "That is absolutely something that the coaching team will discuss with Tom.

"They need to make the decision based on what they've experienced over the past 24 hours.

"Everyone knows if you use social media extensively, you have to accept you get bad as well as good.

"Sometimes bad is wholly unacceptable, as we experienced last night, and that's been dealt with by the relevant authorities."

When news of the insensitive tweet spread yesterday, the user attempted to apologise.

He tweeted: "@TomDaley1994 I'm sorry mate i just wanted you to win cause its the olympics I'm just annoyed we didn't win I'm sorry tom accept my apology."

He later added: "please i don't want to be hated I'm just sorry you didn't win i was rooting for you pal to do britain all proud just so upset."

Deputy mayor of the Olympic Village Duncan Goodhew, a gold and bronze medallist in swimming at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, described the behaviour of the Twitter troll as "appalling".

Robert Sharp, from the group English PEN, a writers' association campaigning for free expression in print and online, supported Daley in re-tweeting the messages he received and said that was the best way of dealing with it.

"Twitter is so easy and immediate that it feels more like speech than publishing," he said.

"This is why so many people - be they politicians or schoolboys - find themselves in hot water on Twitter.

"These debates show that society is coming to terms with a new technology.

"Violent language is an unfortunate part of sport and politics.

"Football referees are threatened every weekend, and there is plenty of talk of 'stringing up' the bankers or politicians.

"People often choose to express themselves in this manner and the police cannot investigate every outburst.

"In the case of Tom Daley, one has to ask whether these tweets were genuine threats to another person, or simply a rant.

"Tom Daley showed a lot of class in responding to the trolls.

"He re-tweeted the offensive comments and the Twitter troll received a social humiliation at the hands of Tom's many fans.

"This kind of punishment is usually better than involving the law."

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