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Watchdog voices shorthand concern following ‘sex act’ complaint

GattThe press watchdog has expressed concern over a court reporter’s shorthand after a paedophile’s ex-husband complained about a story claiming she dressed him up while asleep as part of a “sex act.”

The Independent Press Standards Organisation rejected a complaint by Philip Gatt over an Ayrshire Post report about his estranged wife Angela, who admitted sexual activity with a 14-year-old schoolboy.

Mr Gatt said the story had caused him “embarrassment and stress” after he was named in the piece despite being unconnected to the court proceedings.

He said the Post had inaccurately stated that his ex-wife had dressed him in underwear and photographed them in a “sex act”, when in fact she had played a prank on him by photographing him after placing underwear on top of him while he slept.

Mother-of-two Mrs Gatt, pictured above left, also denied using the phrase “sex act” in court in 2015, during a previous case in which she was accused of taking inappropriate photographs of an elderly woman. The case against her had been found not proven.

The Post had published this information as background during its reporting on the more recent case against her in 2016.

Mr Gatt complained that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, saying it had identified him to a large number of people who would not have known of his relationship with his ex-wife.

The Post responded that it had found his name on the electoral roll, and that it had accurately attributed the reference to the “sex act” to the complainant’s ex-wife.

It provided a transcript of the notes its reporter had taken during the 2015 case, which read: “I did like to dress him up. I sent picture of a sex act. It’s cringeworthy, myself or my own groin.”

The Post noted that the reporter had not recorded every word spoken, but considered that given the volume of information provided during a trial, it would have been impossible for the reporter to do so – adding he reference to the “sex act” was first published in September 2015 by both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Record, and had since been re-published by those papers in the following months.

Mr Gatt said it was only on the third time the reference had been published that he decided to complain to IPSO.

In publishing its findings, IPSO said it was concerned that the quality of the notes was such that the exact context in which the description had been given could not be established, and noted that all three phrases had appeared on separate lines in the reporter’s notes and did not appear to be linked.

However, the newspaper had provided articles which demonstrated that the “sex act” reference had appeared in contemporaneous court reports a year before the article under complaint was published, and in further articles, without complaint or correction – which IPSO did not consider as representing a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.


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  • March 31, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I read all the way to the final paragraph of this article believing the complaint had been upheld.

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