Northern Echo rapped by regulator following sex orgy story

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin
Northern Echo

The Northern Echo has been rapped by press regulator IPSO following publication of a story claiming a woman’s 40th birthday celebration at a hotel had been an “orgy” and “sex party”.

The article, published on September 14th, was headlined “Women’s boozy hotel sex party” and stated that “graphic” CCTV footage had shown women engaged in “lewd sexual behaviour including passing around sex toys and taking part in sex acts with hotel candlesticks while climbing on restaurant tables and chairs”.

A reporter for the Newsquest-owned daily had been invited by the hotel in question to see CCTV of the evening, which he said showed “vulgar sexual behaviour in a public place”.

The Echo argued it was entitled to describe the event as a “sex party” and “orgy” because it had included sexualised behaviour.

However, IPSO said the term “gave the clear implication that explicit sexual activity had taken place, beyond sexualised posing” and described the story as “a significant distortion”.

One of the complainants, who attended the party, said she and her friends were fully clothed throughout and that there had been no sex toys or sexual activity.

IPSO said the article had fallen well short of justifying its headline and called it a “significant distortion, which created a misleading impression of the complainant’s and the other attendee’s actions”.

The Echo was ordered to publish an adjudication, which went online, with a reference on its front page in the same font size as the original article’s sub-headline.

The story had been a follow-up to an earlier report about an outbreak of food poisoning at a hotel that led to a group of women becoming ill.