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Newspaper rapped for articles on "sex craze"

A newspaper which published articles about a “shocking new sex craze” has been rapped by the Press Complaints Commission.

Irish weekly the Sunday World published two articles in September last year exposing a new craze known as bukkake taking place at a sex party in Belfast.

A man complained to the PCC about the articles published on 13 September and 20 September, headlined “Private members club” and “Bukkake gigolo” respectively, saying they were inaccurate, intrusive and that the newspaper had used hidden cameras and subterfuge.

In its defence, the newspaper argued the coverage could be justified in the public interest and a senior medical officer had said participants were at risk of sexually-transmitted infections – but the PCC disagreed, saying it was a “bad editorial lapse”.

The man who complained was the organiser of sex events and was concerned the newspaper had used subterfuge because its coverage included stills from footage shot using a hidden camera by an undercover reporter who had attended an event.

He also said claims by the newspaper, including that he made “big money” from the events, were untrue.

In its ruling, the Commission said, although the newspaper was entitled to report on, and comment robustly about, the sex industry in its local area, it was “not free to pursue any journalistic approach to do so”.

It said the filming and the published images constituted a “serious intrusion” which required a high level of public interest to justify.

The PCC’s view was the defence put forward by the newspaper did not justify the use of the hidden camera because the newspaper could have exposed the existence of bukkake parties and any health risks without using undercover footage.

It also found not enough evidence was provided by the newspaper to support various claims made about the complainant and his wife.

PCC Director Stephen Abell said: “The Editors’ Code of Practice enforced by the PCC contains strong provisions to protect people’s privacy, especially in regard to the use of images taken in private places.

“The Commission has always rightly set a high bar for the use of material from hidden cameras, and the newspaper’s justification did not reach that level here.”