FOLLOWING an article published on 9th September 2017 in The Northern Echo, headlined “Women’s boozy hotel sex party”, a woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

IPSO upheld the complaint and has required The Northern Echo to publish this decision as a remedy to the breach. The article reported that a group of unnamed women who had become ill after a birthday celebration at a hotel, had taken part in a “booze-fuelled orgy with sex toys and candle sticks”.

The complainant was one of the woman who had attended the celebration. She said that the newspaper had published an inaccurate and wildly exaggerated account of the evening’s events.

She said that the party was not an “orgy”, although she accepted that some members of the party had mimicked poses of a sexual nature.

The newspaper did not accept that the article had presented a misleading account of what took place during the evening. It said that the definition of an “orgy” was a “a wild party characterised by excessive drinking and indiscriminate sexual activity”; this was accurate given that the group had been dancing on tables, drinking alcohol and using hotel property and other objects to imitate sexual activity.

On its front page, the newspaper had characterised the birthday party attended by the complainant as an “orgy” and a “sex party”.

The newspaper maintained that it was entitled to do so because the event had included sexualised behaviour.

The Committee accepted that it had demonstrated that it had taken care over its claim that items had been used in a sexualised way and that there had been a sexual element to the events.

However, the reference to the events as an “orgy” and “sex party”, gave the clear implication that explicit sexual activity had taken place, beyond sexualised posing.

This was a significant distortion, which created a misleading impression of the complainant’s and the other attendees’ actions. The complaint was therefore upheld as a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy).