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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 10

Publication: News of the World


A woman from Leicester complained that an article in the News of the World on 18 January 1998, "Love cheat stole our hearts and money ", contained details obtained by subterfuge, in breach of Clause 11 (Misrepresentation) of the Code of Practice.

The article told how one man had allegedly duped and swindled women. The complainant, one of these women, had spoken in detail to a reporter believing her to be the man's latest girlfriend. She said she had also been photographed surreptitiously and that, when asked, the girlfriend denied she was a reporter.

The newspaper said the subterfuge was of overriding public interest in revealing the activities of a man who had cheated women out of.

After the article the man was exposed on Central Television. As the complainant had not cooperated with the police subterfuge was necessary. The reporter said the complainant had not asked if she was a reporter but had permitted notes to be taken. The photograph was taken in the street, a public place. The newspaper offered to apologise to the complainant for any embarrassment.



The Commission agreed there was a clear public interest in reporting the man's actions. However, the complainant, who told the reporter how she had withdrawn her police statement because she could not afford publicity, was entitled to her anonymity. There was no case, therefore, for the use of subterfuge to expose her.

In such circumstances the complaint was upheld.


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