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Complainant Name:
Mr Mark Simpson

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Metro

Complaint:

Mr Mark Simpson complained that an article which reported an incident in which the Fire Service interrupted alleged sexual activity on the Downs in Bristol contained inaccuracies.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant:


“In your coverage ‘Firemen fined for interrupting orgy’ (4/10/07) of the story of the on-duty Avon firemen disciplined for their unexplained presence and behaviour late at night on a part of the Bristol Downs known for gay and straight ‘dogging’, or outdoor sex, you misrepresented some important facts of the case.

Since reform of the law in 2003, outdoor sex is unlikely to lead to prosecution if there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Your piece failed to mention this, and instead presumed that the law had been broken – despite the alleged sexual activity occurring a remote place, at night, in the bushes.

In fact, it is unlikely that any sexual activity, let alone an ‘orgy’, was witnessed at all, even with the use of the powerful torches the firemen were shining into the bushes. No member of the fire service, or the public, complained to the police that they had witnessed any illegal or sexual activity that night. During their disciplinary, the firemen did not claim to have witnessed any illegal or sexual act.

Hence your headline ‘Firemen fined for interrupting orgy’ was misleading, not to mention, ‘inflammatory’. Though definitely eye-catching”.

Report: 77



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