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Complainant Name:
Mr Mark Simpson

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Yorkshire Evening Post

Complaint:

Mr Mark Simpson complained that a comment piece about 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 John Thorpe's column of October 11 last year, he held up the story of Avon firemen disciplined for their unexplained presence and behaviour late at night on a part of the Bristol Downs known for straight and gay ‘dogging’, or outdoor sex as a ‘disturbing’ case of ‘political correctness’. Important facts of the case, however, were disturbingly incorrect.

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

Moreover, it is very dubious and certainly not a fact that any sexual activity was witnessed at all, let alone an ‘orgy’. No member of the fire service or the public complained to the police that they had witnessed sexual activity that night. During their disciplinary, the firemen did not claim to have witnessed any illegal act or sexual activity.

Nor was it ‘one of the gays’ as you put it who complained about the firemen’s behaviour. The sexuality of the anonymous man who reported the fire engine’s presence on the Downs, and that of any other men who may or may not have been seen there is as unknown as their identity”.

Report: 77



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