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Home » Sun ordered by IPSO to correct false claim man raped dog

Sun ordered by IPSO to correct false claim man raped dog

The Sun breached accuracy rules in the Editors’ Code of Practice by reporting that a man had “filmed himself raping a dog”, IPSO has ruled.

The newspaper said the man had walked free from court after he, among other offences, “engaged in the sexual act with the defenceless pup”.

The headline, published in March 2022, said: “PERVERT FREED Sex offender who filmed himself raping a dog and sent the video to a friend on WhatsApp walks free from court.”

But the man argued he had only touched “the dog’s penis to assist it in mating with another dog”, according to the IPSO ruling on the complaint. The ruling went on: “The complainant stated that, whilst it was heard in court that the video was ‘sexual in nature’, there was no sexual gratification resulting from the video for either party as it was sent as an insult during an argument.”

The newspaper had quoted the defence counsel in court saying: “It wasn’t for sexual gratification of him or anyone else.” The Sun reporter’s notes from court showed it was said the man had images showing him “engaging in sexual activity with his dog he had created these himself […] at least some of these images had been sent by the defendant using Whatsapp”.

According to the IPSO ruling, The Sun argued there “was no significant difference between ‘raping’ a dog and masturbating a dog as described by the complainant. It stated that the concept of rape in UK law is limited to humans and so applying it to a situation involving a dog, which could not consent, could not be significantly misleading or inaccurate. Notwithstanding this, it offered to amend the article to say the complainant engaged in a ‘sex act’ with the dog.”

However IPSO’s complaints committee decided that “‘masturbating’ a dog to enable it to mate with another dog did not constitute ‘raping a dog’; where there was no indication of penetrative sexual activity.

“The committee also considered the article did not elaborate on what was shown in the video or add further contextual information beyond that it was ‘sexual in nature’, meaning no additional clarity was provided. The committee considered, therefore, it was misleading for the headline to claim that the complainant had “rap[ed]” a dog and the publication had not taken care to not publish inaccurate or misleading information.”

The committee decided The Sun was therefore in breach of Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code. It also said The Sun further breached the code by offering to amend the headline but not publish a clarification.

A correction ordered by IPSO, now added to the online story directly underneath the headline, reads: “The original headline of this article, now amended, inaccurately stated that Neil Bird had filmed himself ‘raping a dog’. Although the court heard that the video was ‘sexual in nature’, and the dog’s consent (or otherwise) cannot of course be assumed, in his own words Mr Bird in fact ‘jacked off’ the animal ‘before it mated another dog’. This correction has been published following an upheld ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.”

The amended headline now states the man filmed himself “performing a sex act on a dog”.

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