The newspaper’s Oct. 14 apology explained that the newspaper couldn’t “confirm details” in its Oct. 5 story “outlining the account of a woman’s ordeal in court in which she claimed she had been raped.” The newspaper added that “the story was not subjected to the normal scrutiny or checks it should have received before publication.” Therefore, the newspaper wrote that Scotland’s Crown Office”doesn’t have any case like the newspaper reported.
Oddly, according to the note on LexisNexis, the Evening Times did not label this apology and explanation a “correction,” but rather a “clarification.” (iMediaEthics was unable to find the “clarification” published on the Evening Times’ website.)
iMediaEthics searched LexisNexis for the story. The Oct. 5 story carries no byline, but does have the e-mail address of a Rebecca Gray at the bottom. The story is headlined “Raped then humiliated in court … I tried to kill myself 3 times.” It was featured on page 6 of the news section. The story describes a 22-year-old woman named “Louise, from Glasgow,” and shares the story of her rape last year. Further, Louise claimed that “she knew her attacker and had bumped into him in a club earlier that night.”
Louise also claimed that her boyfriend, Paul, called the police after the attack and “within a few hours, I had reported what happened.”
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The Evening Times’ story prompted Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond saying he would “look into the case.”
Political magazine Holyrood reported that Rape Crisis Scotland slammed the newspaper after its apology. According to Holyrood, the group claimed the newspaper’s fake story and retraction “perpetuated the myth that women can’t be trusted when they speak out about being raped.” Brindley commented that the “wording of the retraction” is problematic because there’s a misconception that “women routinely lie about being raped.”
Further, the group’s national coordinator Sandy Brindley is quoted as saying:
“It is very regrettable to see a fabricated account of a rape trial being printed. Our main concern is that the story has not deterred anyone who has experienced rape or sexual abuse from reporting to the police.”
iMediaEthics has written to Evening Times asking how the story was obtained, fact-checked and printed in the first place, and will update with any response.