The woman who was the victim of a sex attack by Jill Dando’s killer Barry George has complained to the Press Complaints Commission, accusing the News of the World of splashing on a story which falsely appeared to be an interview with her.
Karen Ball, whom George was convicted of attempting to rape in 1983, has also told Press Gazette the NoW story made her so angry that she waived the anonymity granted to sex attack victims in order to "legitimise" an exclusive interview she had willingly given to the Sunday Mirror.
Ball said she was contacted by many newspapers investigating George’s background. After meeting with Sunday Mirror journalist Dominic Turnbull she agreed to give the paper an exclusive interview for no fee and refused to speak to any other titles, including the NoW.
The interview ran in the Sunday Mirror on the edition after George was found guilty of Dando’s murder. On the same day the NoW’s splash was the story of the attack on Ball, under the headline: "I was Raped By Dando’s Killer." The article, tagged "exclusive", started: "The woman sexually savaged by Jill Dando’s murderer Barry George has relived the nightmare of her attack."
On an inside spread the NoW reported: "Today, for the first time, the News of the World can reveal the full horror of the woman that Dando’s killer tried to rape." The newspaper described Ball as "speaking in a hushed voice as she relived her ordeal".
Ball believes the NoW story was based on a police statement or court report. She said: "I had intended to remain anonymous and to allow no identifiable photographs to be used, but when I discovered on the Saturday evening that the News of the World had published a piece appearing to be an exclusive interview with me, I decided to waive my right of anonymity. I felt I had to do this to legitimise my interview in the Sunday Mirror."
Ball claims the NoW story contained inaccuracies, as well as giving the impression that quotes were taken from an exclusive interview with her.
"The main reason for my discontent is that victims of crimes such as this should be able to feel that they are free to comment within the framework afforded me by the Sunday Mirror. If they feel they will be subjected to the injustice I have suffered from the News of the World, they will remain silent and the interests of news will not be served," she said.
In her PCC complaint, Ball said she gave the Sunday Mirror an exclusive interview because she believed it "would ensure that I only had to talk about this difficult subject once and that I would be able to ‘hide behind’ the agreement when rejecting approaches from other newspapers".
She also claims that the NoW sought to demonise George by describing him as a "depraved beast" and her as having been "sexually savaged".
An NoW spokeswoman said this week that the paper had received no complaint "as yet". She added: "If and when we receive it, we will deal with this in the normal way and in the fullness of time."
By Jon Slattery