The Scottish News of the World has been criticised by the Press Complaints Commission for a story about a "love Borat" whose partner caught him engaging in "secret internet sexychat with a string of Kazakhstani beauties".
The watchdog said the paper intruded into the man's privacy by publishing extracts from private emails and using a picture showing him partially naked.
- October 20, 2020
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- September 4, 2020
A man complained that the story published on 15 July, under the headline "You love Borat", breaches Clause 3 of the commission's code of practice, covering privacy, and Clause 1, on accuracy.
He said the information on which the story was based, and the photographs with it, were obtained from private emails held on his company's secure server in Kazakhstan.
He claimed his partner – who he said did not have access to his emails – was angry at having been jilted and had used a surveillance programme to infiltrate the messages.
But the Scottish News of the World said his partner got the emails – which were not intrinsically private as they were sent from a work address – from a family computer to which the couple both had access.
She had discovered that the man, with whom she had a child, had been leading a "secret life of internet pornography, chatrooms, and escort agencies", the NoW said.
The paper argued that her right to freedom of speech in exposing his activities – in addition to the public interest element – outweighed his right to privacy.
Having been unable to contact the man before publication, the paper offered to interview him or publish a letter from him, which he declined.
Upholding the complaint on privacy, the PCC said that it was not in dispute that the man's partner obtained his emails without consent and gave them to the paper, which had published extracts from them, along with photographs, one showing him partially naked.
"This sort of intrusion would normally require a very strong public interest justification, something that was not a feature in this case", the PCC said.
"While the woman had a right to discuss their relationship, and clearly had strong views about the complainant and his behaviour, this was not sufficient to warrant publishing information taken from private emails to which the woman was not a party."
But the PCC said there were no matters for it to pursue in relation to the complaint about accuracy.
"It was not necessary for the commission to reach a view as to the truth of the allegation, because it considered that the News of the World's offer to publish a letter offered a sufficient opportunity for the complainant to reply on this point," it said.