Scottish Sun breached Editors' Code with reports about murderer's human rights abuse claims

The Scottish Sun has been censured by press redulator IPSO over the accuracy of an article about “caged beast” William Beggs which claimed the murderer made a string of appeals about alleged infringements of his human rights in prison.

The article, published on 26 September 2015 was headlined “Caged beast’s 21 court cases”.

The article said that Beggs, jailed for murder in 2001, had spent most of his time in prison “plotting appeals over his conviction and human rights claims”.

These appeals related to the food quality in prison, cell conditions, access to exercise facilities and lawyers’ visits.

The paper also reported that the complainant sued the “prison chief” in 2001 to demand “gay porn books”.

Beggs complained to the watchdog under clause one (accuracy) and clause twelve (discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

He argued that he had not sued prison authorities and also that he did not try to sue over prison food or access to exercise.

He also complained that the references to “gay porn” were gratuitous and in breach of clause 12 of the Editors' Code, which states "the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability".

In its defence, the newspaper accepted that Beggs had not requested pornography from prison authorities or sued over the issue.

It removed the article online and offered to publish a correction on page two of the newspapers, as well as online.

But it said the reference to “gay” pornography was relevant in relation to the nature of the murder he had been convincted for in 2001. Beggs sexually assaulted an 18-year-old before murdering him.

In its ruling, IPSO said “the newspaper’s inability to provide material to support its claim that the complainant had previously litigated in relation to prison food and access to exercise represented a similar failure to take care” meant that it was in breach of clause one of the code.

But it said the paper was not guilty of discrimination.

IPSO said the title should promptly publish a correction.



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