By Ruth Addicott
FHM’s attempts to apologise for a feature which mocked the deaths of climbers on Mount Everest were branded “derisory” this week.
The magazine offered the partner of a climber killed on Everest a letter of apology and a £500 donation to charity. It is now facing a Press Complaints Commission inquiry.
The July issue carried an article entitled “Death Mountain”, accompanied by pictures of frozen corpses, which made light of the deaths of climber Mal Duff and photographer Bruce Herrod. It made insinuations about the heart attack Duff suffered and called Herrod a “careless climber” who spent his “last moments flapping around with his feet in the air”. Herrod’s partner, Sue Thompson, said the article was “despicable” and has contacted her lawyer. Thompson and Duff’s widow, Liz, have also complained to the PCC.
FHM is understood to have received a barrage of complaints, including one from Thompson, who wrote to editor David Davies asking for an apology to be run in the next issue. “I have one question for you as editor of FHM,” she wrote. “If any of the people mentioned had been your wife/son/daughter/girlfriend/boyfriend, would you have so readily passed this article for press?” Thompson said the response – a letter of apology and pledge to donate £500 to the Mount Everest Fund – was unsatisfactory.
“I received a letter and I have to say, I probably felt more angry than I had before. If there is any remorse there, it’s derisory,” she said. “The climbers have 100 times more grace and humility than anyone at FHM.”
In her complaint to the PCC, she accuses FHM of “malicious, distorted, inaccurate reporting” and “distastefully gratuitous use of pictures”.
She told Press Gazette: “I seriously call the editor’s judgement into question. If he refuses to print an apology I think he should resign.” In a statement Davies said: “FHM would like to apologise for any offence or distress caused.” Emap, which publishes FHM, said complaints were being dealt with on an individual basis and there were no plans to print an apology.