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Sefton Council leader condemns Reach Plc’s ‘sickening’ video publication


Reach plc has attracted criticism for publishing footage of a freak ‘zorb ball’ accident that put a nine-year-old boy in hospital across several of its websites.

The video showed the child being swept 20 feet into the air by a gust of wind while inside an inflatable zorb ball.

The incident took place during the Southport Food & Drink Festival and led to the child being airlifted to hospital after he sustained multiple serious injuries.

The video included a warning at the start that it contained “graphic content that some viewers may find upsetting”, and showed footage of the accident, followed by a slow-motion replay.

The video has now been taken down, reportedly following complaints from the child’s family.

Titles which published the footage, which originated on social media, included the Liverpool Echo and Glasgow’s Daily Record.

Sefton Council leader Ian Maher was among those who publicly criticised Reach’s decision: “It is sickening enough to learn this video is being shared on social media and via messaging apps but to see supposedly reputable media organisations making it available for wider viewing is reprehensible,” he said. “My thoughts are first and foremost with the young boy who was injured in this shocking accident and his family, who are obviously distraught and upset enough. To now be further faced with these despicable and gross acts of shameless publicity is frankly vile.

“I want to put on record my condemnation of Reach plc and the Liverpool Echo for taking the editorial decision to share this footage although I am pleased that they have now removed the story.

“I sincerely hope others will join me in jointly calling on other media outlets which, sadly, have taken the decision to share the footage and in one case at least still pictures captured from it, to do the right thing and remove this video from their platforms as well.

“Sefton Council has not been made aware of these decisions to publish this footage and had we been, we would have strongly urged them to reconsider. I would like to thank the number of responsible and creditable media agencies who have taken the correct decision to not publish this footage.”

The incident is being investigated by both Merseyside Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Reach plc declined to comment when approached by Prolific North.

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