The Rotherham Advertiser has explained why it chose not to publish video images taken by a rogue former police officer using the powerful camera on his force’s helicopter.
Ex-Pc Adrian Pogmore was jailed for a year on Tuesday last week for having filmed the married couple from the South Yorkshire Police aircraft and also recording five other people who were sunbathing naked in the county.
Footage shot by Pogmore, 51, and screened in court included graphic scenes of the man and woman having sex in a range of positions on their suburban patio.
The footage of the couple, who had refused to given evidence in the trial, was subsequently released to the media, amid warnings by the prosecution that it regarded them as victims of the offence of voyeurism, and therefore entitled to lifelong anonymity.
Images taken from the footage – which Pogmore had shot some nine years previously, when he knew the couple through the “swinging” scene, which the pair had now abandoned – appeared in a number of national and regional newspapers and on websites the following day.
But the Rotherham Advertiser ran a piece by editor Andrew Mosley, explaining its reasons for not publishing the footage or anything taken from it.
One reason, Mosley wrote, was the heightened risk that using the material in the local newspaper (even with details obscured) would lead to the couple being identified, particularly as the woman worked in the Rotherham area and had a job which involved her having to meet the public.
“The Advertiser took the decision not to publish having read the witness statements of the couple, made just last month, regarding the case, which has been played out in court nine years after the film was made by Pogmore,” he wrote.
“They said they have moved on from the swinging scene they admit to having been a part of and now regard their involvement as a ‘shameful’and ‘regrettable’ part of their past.
“The couple, who have committed no crime, have become different people over the years and there is no doubt the publication of their names and images of them would not only have an adverse effect on their lives, but also the lives of their daughter and close family and friends.”
Mosley quoted from a witness statement – the court also released the couple’s witness statements to the media – in which the woman had said: “If I was named by the press this would have a huge impact on where I work, who I work with and the fact that our customer base would find out about this episode in our lives that we strongly want to forget about.”
The woman had also said that “It feels like we are on trial and are to blame for something, which we are not”.
Mosley’s article added: “The criminal in this case is Adrian Pogmore and publication of the images and names of the couple in a family newspaper would only serve to deflect attention away from the former police officer and on to the couple.”
Mosley told Media Lawyer that the judge at the trial had also pointed out to the press his view that naming the couple would seriously harm their well-being.
“We had quite a long discussion about it in the office and there was a wide variety of opinion,” he said.
“But the film was made nine years ago – I might have been more inclined to use it if it had been six months ago.”