The press watchdog has rapped a regional daily over a story based on a “contradictory” police press release which covered a pimp’s sentencing.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint by Gary Enticknap over a Teesside Gazette story about him which was run under the headline ‘Glum-looking pimp used threats to keep his sex enterprise secret’.
The story stated as fact that Enticknap, pictured, had “used blackmail to avoid justice and stop his prostitutes leaving” and contained a quote from a North Yorkshire Police which added he had “used the threat of blackmail to avoid being brought to justice”.
Enticknap complained the story was inaccurate because the blackmail charge had been dropped, which IPSO agreed was a significant inaccuracy in the story.
Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Enticknap said that, while the claim he had blackmailed one of the escorts had been referenced in court, the charge had been dropped and he had not been found guilty of it.
The Gazette accepted that it had published inaccurate information, but it did not accept that it had breached the Code – saying the story was based on a press release issued by the North Yorkshire Police.
The newspaper provided the press release, which stated Enticknap had pleaded “guilty to two charges of controlling prostitution for gain” and that he had “on at least one occasion blackmailed the victim to prevent her contacting police”.
The release also contained a quote from a spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police which said “he used the threat of blackmail to avoid being brought to justice”.
The Gazette said it was contacted by Enticknap directly, and had amended the article and added a correction as a footnote after confirming the position with the North Yorkshire Police.
IPSO found the Gazette had relied solely upon a police press release for its information about the court proceedings.
Finding the press release to be contradictory, the Committee said it explained that an allegation had been made that Enticknap had blackmailed one of his victims and later stated, without qualification, that he had blackmailed the victim on at least one occasion.
The charges in respect of which Enticknap had pleaded guilty were made clear in the press release, but the status of the blackmail allegation was not clear because it did not appear to include a charge of blackmail.
IPSO added the Gazette had reported, as fact, that the complainant had blackmailed his victim, without taking any steps to confirm whether the offence to which the complainant had pleaded guilty had included a charge of blackmail.
Given the seriousness of the claim, the Committee found this represented a failure to take care not to report inaccurate information about the offence committed by Enticknap, and that this was a significant inaccuracy given the article was a report of his court case and conviction.
The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.
Enticknap had initially complained to IPSO on that matter too, but the investigation was discontinued after he said the private letter of apology from the Echo would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.