Post rapped for identifying sex victim

Star gave PCC, above, a statement from Titmuss, top

Jigsaw identification of the male victim of a sexual assault has led to the Press Complaints Commission upholding a complaint against the Barking & Dagenham Post.

A man from Essex had complained that an article headlined “The Trapping”, published in the Post on 7 July 2004, included information that led to his identification.

He said a report of a court case, in which a former teacher was convicted of indecently assaulting school pupils, contained sufficient information to identify him as one of the man’s victims.

In particular, the report contained details of an injury suffered by the complainant at the hands of his teacher during a lesson – an injury so specific that anybody who was at the school at the time would have been able to identify him. The teacher’s name was given in the report. As a result, friends, relatives and former schoolmates knew that he had been a victim of his former teacher’s crimes.

The newspaper said the details of the injury suffered by the complainant were an important part of the case and the report was justified.

The Commission has rejected two other complaints against the Daily Star and the Evening Standard .

England football star Rio Ferdinand had complained that the Star ‘s April 2004 story headlined “Text Pest Rio Driving Abi Nuts” was inaccurate.

The article claimed Ferdinand had “bombarded” TV presenter Abi Titmuss with telephone text messages and also that the couple had been out on three dinner dates.

It was based on comments from an unnamed source and quoted Titmuss’ spokeswoman, who dismissed the claims about dinner dates, but confirmed the text messaging.

Ferdinand told the PCC he had not had any contact with Titmuss and complained that the Star had not tried to contact him before publication.

The Star provided the Commission with a prior newspaper cutting, which claimed Ferdinand had dated Titmuss on three occasions and which had not been the subject of a PCC complaint, plus a signed statement from Titmuss that said Ferdinand had contacted her on numerous occasions.

A Kent man claimed that an article headlined “Steaming Gang’s Terror Reign” published in the Evening Standard on 15 June 2004 identified him as the separated father of one of the gang.

The newspaper said the information was considered to be genuinely relevant to the story as it partly explained the reasons why the complainant’s son had turned to crime.

The newspaper added that the piece did not contain any intrinsically private details. Nonetheless, the newspaper sought to resolve the matter by sending the complainant a personal letter of apology, which said it regretted that the article had caused him distress.

By Jean Morgan and Dominic Ponsford

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