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A screenshot of the Mirror's apology

The Daily Mirror apologized after wrongly claiming that a teenage victim of sexual abuse consented to sex with her abuser.

The Mirror had published stories on April 29 and 30 that claimed a young woman said she had a “consensual” relationship with Max Clifford nearly 40 years ago.

Clifford is a publicist who used to represent celebrities like Simon Cowell. He was jailed earlier this year “for a total of eight years for a string of indecent assaults against girls and young women,” the BBC reported May 2.

However, the woman in question was only a child when the incident occurred. The woman complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the Mirror article, pointing out that she couldn’t have consented to any sexual relationship because of her age.

While the article was unpublished, iMediaEthics found an excerpt of the article on another website. The excerpt reported that the woman in question is now “in her mid-fifties” and said the abuse took place when she was 15 years old. The article excerpt rightly does not name the victim.

The Mirror specifically unpublished the portion of the article that wrongly stated the woman had a consensual “sexual relationship” with Clifford, who she thought was an “older, charismatic man.”

The PCC summarized the woman’s complaint:

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Why hoax?

“The complainant had not had a ‘sexual relationship’ with him; she had been sexually abused by him. Furthermore, she had not admitted he was charismatic or that the abuse was consensual; it could not, in any case, have been consensual, as she had been a child. The complainant was further concerned that another article had incorrectly implied that she had given the newspaper an interview, and inaccurately attributed a comment to her.”

The Mirror also published an apology on May 17 on its website. The apology states:

“Further to our articles of 29 April and 30 April concerning a victim of Max Clifford we have been asked to point out that she denies calling him a ‘disgusting pervert'”

“Contrary to the claim that her sexual relationship with him was consensual, the victim did not consent and further, could not consent because of her age.  We apologise for any distress caused.”

iMediaEthics has written to the Mirror and Clifford’s attorney for further comment. We’ll update with any additional information.

The PCC declined to comment further.

Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle made a similar error when it wrongly said a 15-year-old rape victim “had sex with” her attackers, as iMediaEthics reported.

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UK Mirror: Sorry we said teenage sexual abuse victim had consensual sex w/ Max Clifford

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