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Complainant Name:
Mr Ian Malcolm-Walker

Clauses Noted: 1, 3, 10

Publication: News of the World


Mr Ian Malcolm-Walker of Derby complained that a report headlined "School governor likes spanking hookers" in the News of the World on 2 June 1996 contained a number of inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), represented an unjustified intrusion of his privacy in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy), and that the information had been obtained through misrepresentation in breach of Clause 7 (Misrepresentation) of the Code of Practice.

The article claimed that the complainant, who is a governor at a local primary school with a strict policy on school violence, pays for sex and fighting sessions with the mothers of two pupils banned from the school for fighting. An undercover reporter had recorded on videotape a meeting between the complainant and the two women in which, it was claimed, the complainant had fought with one of the women.

The complainant believed the article was based on an unjustified argument that aspects of his private life were in conflict with his role as school governor; he said that it had failed to distinguish between past and present by implying that, since becoming a school governor, he still saw on a regular basis two women he had once seen and paid for sex. He admitted that during the recent meeting described he had teased one of the women and had partially lowered his trousers to reveal the external fixator on his broken leg but denied there had been a sex act or anything that could be regarded as a "fight". He said that as an individual school governor he himself was not empowered to ban children, information which could, he said, have been obtained without subterfuge.

The newspaper said that as a governor at a school with a strict policy against fighting, his behaviour was a matter of public interest. In stating that the complainant had indulged in and paid for "sordid" sex, it had not said this had necessarily occurred at the meeting described but that it had occurred previously. During the meeting he had talked "frankly and obscenely" about fighting, sex games and paying for the women's sexual services. They submitted a videotape of the meeting which showed the complainant talking to the two women and the undercover reporter about fighting and cybersex on the internet but said the tape had run out before the principal events described in the article took place.

Not Upheld


The Commission considered whether the newspaper had demonstrated that revelations about the complainant's private life were in the public interest and whether the newspaper had demonstrated a public interest justification for their use of subterfuge. The Commission noted that the complainant did not deny that he had, in the past, had a relationship of a sexual nature with the women and that the conversation at the meeting, at which he had dropped his trousers, included references to this and to fighting. Although the complainant was not directly responsible for banning the women's children from school, as a governor he had taken on a public role and was aware of the school's policy on fighting. In all the circumstances, the Commission did not find that any inaccuracies alleged by the complainant would be so significant or the presentation so misleading as to breach the Code, particularly in view of the public interest. It therefore found the article and the use of subterfuge by the newspaper as a means of corroborating the information given by the two women was justified.

The complaint was rejected.


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